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Morningside Baptist Church
By: Jennifer Walker-Journey

Morningside Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia, had always believed that providing a fulfilling church life experience for the entire family was the key ingredient in growing a strong church. When the church needed to expand its facilities to accommodate growing membership, it made sense to reinvest in its ministry programs.

Church leadership organized a Long Range Planning Committee and hired architects, engineers and interior designers from CDH Partners based in Marietta, Georgia, to design a master plan that would address the church’s present ministry needs as well as provide a plan for future expansion as membership continued to grow. The plan would be phased, with the first phase addressing the most pressing desires.

Morningside is a traditional-style, red brick church. The campus consisted of a large sanctuary building, fellowship hall, and a cluster of classroom buildings linked together by walkways. The ministry programs, however, were physically disconnected, scattered among several buildings on campus. This was a primary concern for church leadership, which wanted to tie together the programs together in one building to form a Children’s Ministry Center.

Adult ministry space would also need updating and renovating and, ideally, would connect in some way to the new Children’s Ministry Center.

As part of the planning process, focus groups were organized to help identify areas that could be improved.  A recurring theme that came out of the focus group meetings was the need for more space for preschool, children and pre-teens to worship and express their creativity.

In response, CDH Partners designed a 39,000-square-foot, two-story building that would be situated behind the current sanctuary. The building would have a separate entrance with a large check-in area for enhanced security, as well as access to a two-story indoor playground. The first floor would consist of preschool classrooms, a playroom, a large multipurpose space, plenty of storage, and a family theater as an “opportunity – and alternative – to families that would like a family movie night without huge expense, large group birthday parties and similar events,” Strickland said.

The second floor of the Children’s Ministry Center would include several classrooms for older children, support space, two multipurpose areas, and a café.

An existing, adjacent 10,000-square-foot, two-story building would be and renovated to provide new and improved adult ministry classrooms, and be connected to the Children’s Ministry Center on both levels.

The master plan also allowed for future phases that would involve demolishing older classroom buildings on campus to make room for additional classrooms, a café and a technology center in the adult ministry area; and a large new assembly hall, classrooms and gathering areas specifically for youth. Future phases would also tie the new space into the sanctuary as well as the Children’s Ministry Center.

The planning for the ministry program, however, didn’t stop with the floor plan. CDH Partners’ met with church preschool and children’s ministry leaders in a series of meetings to discuss the “theme” and overall vision for each area of the Children’s Ministry Center.

This translated to an elaborate three-dimensional clubhouse theme that included outdoor activities such as fishing, and hiking for the preschool area. Spaces for the older kids were themed more toward outdoor sports such as rock climbing and kayaking. Some specific elements in these areas included hanging full-size kayaks along the walls, running a faux river through the common spaces utilizing carpet, and decorating with three-dimensional rocks and fun wall graphics on “scrubbable” wall-coverings. Other design elements included accents such as Jockimo Lava Tiles shaped as turtles. These modular floor tiles consist of colored liquid sealed within tiles. The tiles are resilient, and when pressure is applied, the liquid within the tiles literally swirls around the feet.

CDH Partners is an integrated offering comprehensive architectural, engineering, interiors and planning services to churches, www.cdhpartners.com.

Photos copyright © Scott Wang Photography

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