By: Amanda Yanchury
The North United Methodist Church (Minneapolis) building is about to get see some major changes. Cushman & Wakefield /Northmarq, a commercial real estate partnership, chose the church for their annual Give Back program—meaning the company plans to donate $10,000 in repairs to make the church more inviting and up-to-date.
At an April neighborhood meeting where NorthMarq asked for suggestions for this year’s project, a resident nominated North UMC because of the church’s extensive community outreach ministries.
“We thought it would be a wonderful way to not only help the congregation, but the community groups that utilize the facility,” said Steph Molloy, associate director of brokerage services for Cushman Wakefield/Northmarq and liaison for the program. “Through the Pohlad Family Foundation, we made contact with the Lowry Corridor Business Association, who helped us identify the church as a place in need of some help and renovations that we could provide.”
“This will make the church more welcoming,” said North UMC’s Pastor Linda Koelman. “You aren’t always able to fix up and repair stuff. This will make the church a more appealing place for groups to meet.”
North UMC is the meeting place for many community groups, including another congregation, two Qigong groups, a GLBT book club, a music school, a Girl Scout troop, political groups, and more. The building is also home to a day care, licensed for up to 29 children during the work week, and serves as an evacuation center for nearby Patrick Henry High School.
Their biggest outreach ministry, however, is the clothes closet. This ministry provides free clothing (and other items like toys and children’s books) for those who cannot otherwise afford them. Last year, about a thousand people visited the closet, which distributed over 20,000 items.
On the first Monday of every month, the Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck serves a free meal to clothes-closet patrons. A group of health professionals from the tenant congregation run medical fairs at the church on a regular basis—and are planning to provide medical and dental care for clothes-closet patrons.
It was this extensive involvement with the community that led NorthMarq to conclude that to assist it would benefit many—and do the most good.
“Part of Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq’s vision is a commitment to serve the communities in which we live,” said Martha Nevanen, vice president of marketing communications for the company. “In 2012, we’re planning to renovate North UMC because it serves as a community hub for their area.”
NorthMarq plans extensive renovations. They’ve asked construction companies and materials suppliers to join NorthMarq in donating funds, labor, and materials.
Some of the work has already begun, with the majority of updates to take place this July.
Pastor Linda Koelman is excited about the project. The upkeep of an old building is overwhelming, she said, and the small congregation isn’t always able to make the changes they want.
One priority is to replace the church’s boiler with a new, energy efficient one. This should help lower utility bills, which will help the church reduce operating costs into the future.
New flooring and shelving as well as the changing of the room layout of the clothes closet will make it more inviting and safe for patrons. Designer Jim Smart is donating his services to redesign and update the clothes closet.
Ceiling fans in the sanctuary will probably be replaced. Removal of some old storage will give the building one more meeting room, which NorthMarq will fill with new furniture.
“With the addition of a new meeting room, we can provide even more meeting space for groups,” Koelman said.
In the day care, heating pipes will be covered as a safety precaution. A broken sink will be replaced.
Updates will be made to the kitchen and the landscaping. The pastor’s office and meeting and storage rooms will get new carpeting or tile.
All of these updates are pending the donation of materials and funds from the suppliers. One construction company, RJM Construction, is completing much of the heavy labor. The Pohlad Family Foundation will pay for all of the carpeting.
Cushman and Wakefield/NorthMarq plan to hold internal clothes and toy drives to benefit the church’s clothes closet. On July 18, employees will spend the entire day on site, similar to an “extreme makeover” day, helping with the updates.
“It’s just absolutely amazing—it’s a huge boost to our congregation,” Koelman said. “I don’t think it every really hit them that what they’re doing makes a difference to that many people—and somebody else cares about it.”
Amanda Yanchury is communications assistant for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church