Blessed with Growth Grounded in the Gospel, the Ground Floor Opens | CERC Blog | Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)

Blessed with Growth Grounded in the Gospel, the Ground Floor Opens

30 Dec 2019

A year ago, faced with the continued growth of our congregation, the increasing number of mothers and young infants among our midst, and the increasing demands of ministry, we realised we needed more space. We also recognised that our location on the first and second floor of a building meant that the elderly and those who are less physically-able found it difficult to access the church. Therefore, the church embarked on the Growth Analysis Project, or “GAP” for short, which aimed to address the current shortcomings of our premises, meet the rising demands, and prepare the church for future growth.

And so, as part of GAP, the church secured the ground floor of CERC Central, which was finally opened for use earlier this year after much planning and hard work. Two core committee members of this project were Samuel Yim and Belmain Chee, respectively an architect and a quantity surveyor by vocation, who worked to help the church get the best design and value for the ground floor project.

Ground Floor pre-renovation

Design

Decked in familiar colours of red, white and black, the ground floor was designed to house a large space that includes, amongst others, an overflow hall, a reception area, a pantry, a storeroom, additional toilets, and perhaps most notably, the new and expanded crèche.

“CERC never had a proper entrance before this. Previously, visitors first had to go through the staircase to access the church, but now that we have the ground floor, we hope to provide a richer experience through the main entrance and reception area. Obviously, there is also the large overflow space that we can use for Geddit, other events, or just additional meeting spaces. We have also moved our crèche facilities to the ground floor. It is now a larger, more conducive space where the mothers can give care to their children, while still being able to listen in on the sermon,” said Samuel.


CERC’s new main entrance to Ground Floor (top) and the reception area (bottom)

“Originally, we had intended for the doors of the crèche to be brick-coloured, in-line with the aesthetics of the reception area, but we soon realised that while this would be pleasing to the eye, it would actually obstruct the mothers from viewing the sermon properly. So, we decided glass was a better choice. The next question was: ‘what kind of glass?’ Double-layered glass was our initial thought, but after obtaining results from factories, where they ran decibel tests, we decided to go for laminated glass even though it was a bit more expensive, because it had better sound-proofing qualities. This is important because we are situated next to a noisy highway, and we do not want the noise to detract from the edifying sermons, skits, interviews, etc.,” added Belmain.

The newly opened creche

Apart from providing a conducive environment, flexibility and the ability to meet different ministry needs were also major considerations when Samuel designed the ground floor.

“Although the rooms primarily function as a crèche, they can serve alternate functions when needed, such as meeting rooms for the increasing number of growth groups, church departments, other ministry meetings, or even as a room where people can rest. The space was designed to accommodate as many people as possible, and for as many events or purposes as possible for the gospel. This is why we decided to install folding doors: if we need more space, we could simply fold up the doors to merge spaces into a larger one. Even the outside ‘walls’ of the crèche are folding doors, which means, if we really needed to, we have the option of expanding our space all the way to the road. Alternatively, if we needed more segregation or privacy, we could partition the space into rooms to allow for multiple meetings or events to take place at the same time,” explained Samuel.

Christmas at CERC 2019 makes full use of the new ground floor space

Value

Acquiring and renovating spaces is no small undertaking, and one that requires a considerable sum of money. The committee also had to consider what constituted good value for the church while budgeting for this project.

“We had to be clear of our aim – which is church growth, and particularly the many new mothers and babies among us. What was the church doing, and where would it be going? That informed the goal of the ground floor project, which in turn told us the proper weight to be attributed to each element, and therefore help us determine what ‘good value’ was,” explained Belmain.

In fact, Belmain went as far as to call the finalisation of the budget the most difficult decision they had to make during the entire process:

“We found it difficult to settle on a final budget that we were confident in presenting to the church. Whenever we came up with what seemed like a strong and well-informed budget, there were always some creeping doubts: ‘Are we really sure?’, ‘What if we want something else?’, ‘What if there’s something we don’t need?’, ‘Maybe it’s better to include a contingency cost for safety!’. There were many arguments, but after working out and sticking to our guiding principles, we figured out where we had to spend and where we could compromise. For example, money spent in the crèche is much more important than in the toilet. Originally, the crèche was smaller and simpler in design, but we decided to make it what it is today even though it was much more expensive, because we had to – the growth trajectory of the church demanded it. We tried to anticipate the continued growth and expansion of the church, rather than just doing what was necessary at the time of planning, and then realise later on that we needed further expansion, because that would actually be counter-productive in terms of both cost and efficiency. We had a long-term view in mind and that was how we finally settled on a manageable RM250,000 budget.”

Looking Ahead

By God’s grace, the church continues to grow and expand. GAP does not end with the opening of the ground floor. Brothers and sisters, let us pray that as our numbers continue to grow, so too does our maturity, and consequently, our ministry efforts. May we work hard as we continue to serve as a beacon of God’s glory here in the Klang Valley.