The Water’s Edge 2021 Capital Campaign
A Message From Pastor Craig
I remember the night well. It was in February of this year. A Wednesday night. I dropped David off at the front door of the church and took a phone call on the way to my usual parking spot. I entered the church building a few minutes later and I saw a bunch of third-grade students on the floor in the lobby, excited to learn. I chatted with them for a bit. As I walked to my office, I peeked into the conference room and greeted some high school boys and their leaders. A big group of middle school girls was in the kids’ large group area. I walked up to the office and logged onto a Zoom meeting with a young couple I was getting ready to marry. It got really loud downstairs, so I moved to the far corner of the office. Still too loud. So I went into the closet. That worked.
David and I went home. I took the dogs for a walk and was troubled by something. The third graders were in the lobby on the floor. The kindergarteners, first graders, second graders, fourth graders, and fifth graders were at home because WE didn’t have room. Jesus is clear when it comes to welcoming children:
Jesus put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me — God who sent me.” – Mark 9:36-37
I have two sons, Benjamin and David. I couldn’t have imagined and I can’t imagine a better church for them to grow up in. The opportunities. The people. The culture. The investment. They have witnessed the Gospel being lived out by so many. They have seen a few dozen people gathering in a middle school become a large congregation situated on 25 acres that will serve the community and love people into a relationship with Jesus Christ for generations to come. My dream is that hundreds of families in our area will say the exact same thing about The Water’s Edge over the next decade. But WE have some work to do. A building expansion needs to happen. A driveway needs to be built. And our remaining debt needs to be paid off so that WE can spend less on interest and invest more in people.
Welcome Home is the name of our upcoming capital campaign. Our spiritual work over the next few months is going to help us say “welcome home” to children, youth, and their families. It will allow us to say “welcome home” to people who haven’t been physically present with us over the last year and a half. It will allow us to say “welcome home” to people who are new to our area and are looking for a church community. It will allow us to say “welcome home” to the lonely, the addict, the person in transition, the grieving, the skeptic, the house church, the Bible study, the party, the outside group, and anybody else.
Here’s the vision: By the fall of 2023, The Water’s Edge will have expanded our facility to meet the growing demands and opportunities right in front of us and WE will have a driveway and entrance on the west side of our property, and in five years WE will be debt free! Because of these three things—WE will be equipped to “welcome home” whoever comes our way.
Find Out More & Give
Capital Campaign Information Book
Click HERE to view an online version of the Welcome Home Campaign Book.
% of our $2,700,000 goal reached
At A Glance
Projects + Cost
- 10,000 sq. ft. multi-use space to the west of the current building
- Seats up to 275 people in the large group area
- Seats up to 225 around tables for events
- Additional space for our children and youth so that we can include all grade levels
- Expanded gathering area for Sunday mornings
- Additional restrooms
- Expanded serving area with increased counter space, additional refrigeration, more storage, and new warming ovens
- Three large, flexible classrooms
- The first $200,000 of the campaign will go to debt reduction.
- Coupled with five years of payments from our budget, the church will be debt free in five years
New West Entrance and Driveway
- This driveway will offer easier access for those arriving from the west
- Improve flow of traffic before and after services
- Increase safety
- Provide a connection to our surrounding neighborhoods.
$2,400,000 Building Expansion
$ 200,000 Debt Reduction
$ 100,000 West Driveway / Entrance
At A Glance
The Impact of Projects and Debt Reduction
These projects will allow us to better fulfill our mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and each other by growing existing ministries, introducing new ministries, and serving our community better.
The Multipurpose Room will:
- Provide a much-needed space for our youth group to gather and grow.
- Create additional space to expand our evening children’s programs.
- Provide suitable space for youth group and kids’ programs to meet at the same time on
- Wednesday evenings, creating efficiency and sustainability for our staff, leaders, and families.
- Allow us to offer better hospitality for funerals and weddings.
- Offer a more welcoming space for overflow worship seating on busy Sundays and holidays.
- Provide space for a new worship experience, should the opportunity or need arise—Sunday morning or another time during the week.
- Create a community space open for groups to use for gatherings, retreats, meetings, recovery groups, and more.
- Allow us to host larger mission projects, such as Project Wee Care, blood drives, and visiting mission trip groups.
The new Classrooms will:
- Give us more room for adult discipleship classes with adult-sized furniture instead of using WE Kids classrooms.
- Offer a space for Sunday morning adult classes to meet.
- Provide rooms for youth small groups to meet for discussion and sharing.
- Provide more space for support groups, caring ministries, and affinity groups to meet.
The new Coffee Bar and Kitchen Space will:
- Create more space for people to connect with each other on Sunday mornings.
- Allow us to offer better hospitality to guests on Sunday mornings, at funerals, weddings, and other catered events.
- Increase our ability to serve food with warming ovens, larger sink, and more space.
- Improve flow of people getting coffee and food before and after worship.
The West Driveway will:
- Offer easier access for people arriving from the west.
- Improve flow of traffic before and after services.
- Improve safety.
- Provide a connection to our surrounding neighborhoods.
Debt Reduction / Elimination will:
- Allow us to pay less (or stop paying) interest and principal reduction out of the annual budget.
- Devote more resources in ministries to children, youth, and adults.
- Fund much needed additional staffing.
- Expand local missions and investment in our community.
What will be the priority for how campaign funds are utilized?
The first $200,000 received will reduce the debt. The remaining proceeds will be used for the driveway and building expansion. Any remaining balance will be used for additional debt reduction.
Why don’t WE eliminate our debt first and then build?
The leadership team considered the results from the feasibility study that indicated many would like to begin construction as soon as possible. Reasons given include: 1) Increases in future construction costs and 2) WE need the space now. Delaying construction will delay ministry impact. WE have reduced our total debt to a level that can be paid through our annual ministry operation budget and still adequately fund our ministries and operating costs. Our proposal does provide for debt reduction that will result in our debt being paid off completely in five years. This debt elimination is sooner than WE originally planned and is a huge accomplishment for a church our age and size.
When will construction of the addition begin?
We anticipate the design phase will begin in January 2022, with construction beginning the summer of 2022. The addition should be completed by August 2023 when our age-level ministries begin their fall programming.
When will construction of the access to 198th Street begin?
Construction could happen as soon as spring 2022.
Will there be any new long-term debt?
No. Church leadership is committed to eliminating our remaining debt in the next five years.
In light of the United Methodist General Conference in 2022, is this the right time to conduct a capital campaign?
The United Methodist General Conference and the issue of human sexuality were present during our campaigns in 2012 to buy land, in 2015 to raise funds for the building, and in 2018 to reduce our debt. If WE had waited for denominational issues to be resolved to launch capital campaigns, WE would still be worshipping at Millard West High School. During this last decade, The Water’s Edge has grown considerably in size and influence because WE have focused on things WE can control. The Water’s Edge leadership team and clergy continue to monitor denominational issues and believe that living into our mission as a church will have greater impact on our future than whatever decision is made by the denomination.
Have the leaders considered selling part of the land to pay for part of the expansion or reduce the debt?
Church leadership has considered selling a parcel of land in the past. The decision has been not to pursue this option for the following reasons:
1. WE have a big vision for what The Water’s Edge will become over the next few decades. Our leadership team believes keeping our current property is critical for our future.
2. Once we sell land, we no longer control its use. This is a concern if the use is not compatible with our church.
3. One of the advantages of our location is visibility from Harrison Street. Selling the more valuable parcels of land could limit the church’s visibility.
4. The higher valued lots that have sold in the area are commercial lots. Our land is zoned residential with a special use for the church. The value of residential lots is not as high as commercial lots. Based on past communications with the city planning department, it is unlikely we would be able to obtain approval to change zoning on a corner lot from residential to commercial.
Is this new space just for the kids and youth?
Absolutely not. WE hope adults use various spaces during the day. WE will be able to have adult Sunday morning classes, house churches, Bible studies, small groups, and community events. The large room will allow us to have a great space for funeral lunches. It will also provide overflow seating for worship. It will be a great space for a worship service, should the opportunity or need arise.
In light of the pandemic, is this the right time to conduct a capital campaign?
The pandemic is one of the primary reasons The Water’s Edge is launching a capital campaign:
1. During the 2020-2021 school year, our building was beyond capacity on Wednesday evenings. Our youth (sixth to twelfth grade) used all the classrooms, the conference room, and the kids’ large group area. Our children’s ministry (kindergarten to fifth grade) was limited to third grade every other week and fouth and fifth grade every other week. And they had to use the church lobby. No space was available for adults to meet during this time. This is during a pandemic. With schools getting back to closer to normal and anticipated growth in our congregation, this crowding will only get worse, and WE will miss a vital opportunity to share the Gospel with the next generation.
2. During the pandemic, many of our house churches began using the church facility for their groups. This was not the original vision for our small groups, but WE found the church facility works well for a number of our groups.
3. During the pandemic, The Water’s Edge served and earned goodwill with the community by hosting dozens of events from blood drives to galas for non-profits to school graduations. As Omaha, Gretna, and Elkhorn continue to develop around our property, many new opportunities will emerge, and WE want to be prepared to be like Jesus and “welcome the stranger.”
4. During the pandemic, the church landscape changed. People all over the world lost their habit of attending worship regularly. Being in a fast-growing area of Omaha, The Water’s Edge is well-positioned to be home to people looking for a new faith community. WE are currently experiencing this with many visitors every week. The Water’s Edge, being in a new building with new technology, was as prepared as any church for the pandemic. People are re-engaging in worship. As of August 2021, in-person attendance is two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels and continues to grow weekly.
5. During the pandemic, the generosity of the people of The Water’s Edge indicates high levels of buy-in for our vision. Generosity has increased, with 2020 annual giving 8% above 2019. During the first half of 2021, giving was 21% higher than the first half of 2020. Churches that have held steady during the pandemic are celebrating and they should be. Increases in giving like The Water’s Edge is experiencing are very rare. This generosity has resourced The Water’s Edge to do amazing things, including preparing to launch a capital campaign that expands our facilities and reduces, or even eliminates, our debt.
Can WE have children and youth programming on other nights, in addition to Wednesday, to relieve crowding?
Schools and sports still hold Wednesday evenings as pretty sacred. Wednesday is the best night for youth and children’s ministries. Until the facilities are expanded, WE will certainly explore age-level programming on other nights. Friday and Saturday nights don’t work for most families. On Thursday the building is typically full with band practice and WE University. On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday WE will have house churches, meetings, and other adult ministries. Other limiting factors are how many nights per week we want our staff to work (most of them have kids) and the availability of volunteers. Also, families with multiple children are also challenged to bring different children to the church building on different nights.
If actual construction costs are higher than projected, how will this impact the goals of the campaign?
The first $200,000 received wil go to debt reduction regardless of construction costs. The building and leadership teams will consider options that may include adjusting the scope of the project or leaving part of the project unfinished and completed at another time.
What is the approval process to begin new construction of the addition?
The building team will be recruited and formed by January 1, 2022. Their purpose will be the same as the building team for our first construction project: They will work with the architect and general contractor to design the proposed addition and to develop the total budget.
The building team proposal will be presented to the leadership team for approval.
Upon leadership team approval, a special church conference will be called to present the proposed project design, scope, and budget. The church will vote on this proposal.
Will the new addition have a kitchen?
Due to budget constraints and significant city zoning regulations, it is unlikely the project will include a fully equipped kitchen that can be used for cooking and meal preparation.
The leadership team has listened to feedback from the First Impression Gatherings, the town hall meeting, and the feasibility study. Much feedback was received about increased kitchen facilities. Virtually all the meals served at our church events are catered. The current plan, based on the above-mentioned congregational feedback, expands our kitchen/serving area to include more refrigeration capacity, warming ovens, storage, and a larger sink.
To be a church who relentlessly pursues a transforming relationship with God, generously extends hope to the hurting, sacrificially serves our families, and radically invests in the next generation.
—The Water’s Edge Vision