The journey of Shepherd’s Gate and the replanting of our Church, so far.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Is 43:19
The behind the scenes work of God is often more obvious in hindsight. At least, that is my experience with our new Church, Shepherd’s Gate. What really began with an idea bantered about among friends has become a larger than life miracle with open doors we could not have predicted.
Finding a Buyer
Our 15,000 sq ft. warehouse was home to Evangel Church for 25 years. We shared it with many community groups and we also rented space to local businesses. We dreamed that one day the building would be 100% used for the glory of God. We opened the doors to a new group in Calgary called Hope Mission. Hope does amazing work with families and they fit so well with what we were doing, we began sharing space free of charge. This relationship grew and eventually we offered to sell the building to Hope as their Calgary campus.
When Hope Mission decided to place an offer on the building, the Calgary market was strong. It was just before the oil price downslope of 2015 when the vacancy rate in commercial rentals began spiking. The price was right, and the buyer was a great fit for the community and the timing was perfect. Today the building is 100% used for kingdom work in our city.
Developed land in Calgary is hard to find for a Church. If there is any, it is usually expensive, around one million dollars per acre. We needed to find enough land to build but our budget was half a million dollars! We began to look on the edge of the city with the help of a real-estate agent. Strangely though it was on Kijiji we first saw our lot. Four-acres of land next to Stoney Trail for $540,000, right on budget. We jumped at the chance and closed the deal even though there was a risk that the city would not approve the zoning.
Zoning the Land
The property is in an area of the city that is marked for future urban development. The city restricts all zoning applications for these areas and only makes exceptions in rare cases. Would our case merit city approval? At first the planning department tried to dissuade us from applying as the rules are such that they must recommend a refusal. We decided to progress with the application hoping that the city council would see the merits of the application. In a strange turn of events, the planning department changed their recommendation from refuse to approve. We presented our case to the City council in March of 2018. Not only did they approve our application but unexpectedly they wrote a special by-law to accommodate our project. It is practically unheard of that the city would write a by-law during a council meeting as they did for us.
When we purchased the land, we knew there were plans in the area for new housing. This is of course something we hoped for in moving to our new location. We are a community Church. Soon we heard that in fact as new community was already being proposed. Hotchkiss is a new project of 3700 homes by Hopewell that will be practically across the road from our Church site. The Hotchkiss application was a long shot, much like ours. The City is generally cautious about expansion because of the cost of services that new communities require such as fire, ambulance, libraries, schools and transit. Hotchkiss was also outside the 7-minute response time for fire and ambulance. Approval for Hotchkiss was delayed several times but amazingly, on July 31, 2018 the council at the last minute included Hotchkiss in a list of new communities approved for development.
The final milestone in this journey of faith is seeing our building come to completion. We have a unique community focused design with a full-size multi-purpose gym and a soccer field that will available for rental. Our design features a great kid’s area that can be shared by a day care during the week. The covered patio is adjacent to the green space and will be an amazing gathering area for families.
One challenge we have faced is the civil engineering costs of going from bare property to developed land. The reason developed land is a million dollars an acre is because all the development work is done. Our engineer and architects have been amazing, and we expect to build an awesome facility at a faction of the normal development cost. Still the costs are stretching every penny of our proceeds from the sale of the building. We need, for instance to cover the costs of a road upgrade to access our site. Some of this road expense will be recovered as neighbors develop their land. We are looking to our friends and supporters to invest with us and mark this final milestone in our miracle journey.
We are in the development phase and expect to begin building in April of 2019. By God’s grace we hope to open our doors in the fall of 2019.
Would you be willing to support this project and sow a seed into the future harvest of righteousness in our City?
We are anticipating the total building costs to complete the building and land development to be $2,500,000. We need to raise $800,000 to meet this budget and open our doors for ministry. Here are some ways we hope to accomplish that.
a) Buy a tree for a loved one. We are creating a memorial garden and walkway. For $500 we will plant a tree in memory of your loved one with a plaque.
b) Gifts in kind. We are able to provide gift receipts to business that are willing to donate some or all of their work.
c) Volunteer labor. Use your skills for the Lord. We will even train you so all we need is your willingness.
e) Above all, please pray. Our help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. Ps 121:2