Kensington Church’s new Orion Township campus will open this weekend, hosting 10 Christmas services over four days.
On a tour Wednesday, workers were busy installing finishing touches in every part of the 72,000-square-foot building, which will seat 1,500 in its auditorium.
“Honestly, there were people who doubted we’d be ready for Christmas, including even some of our own team,” said Greg Gibbs, Kensington’s financial director and project manager.
Starting Friday, Kensington will shift its presence from Lake Orion High School, where it has been renting space, to its own building on Lapeer Road. The new site was built on spec as a warehouse and never occupied. Just a shell, it had been foreclosed on when the church acquired it.
“The upside of the down economy was that we could get this building incredibly cheaply,” Gibbs said. “Kensington friends and members responded favorably to a capital campaign, which gave us a lot of cash to put into this. It was extraordinary.”
“We realize we have a lot of members who live in the community,” campus co-director Nancy Wurm said. “We had outgrown Lake Orion High School shortly after we moved in.” She expects those who attended there, plus some Rochester-area residents, to move to the new campus, plus more.
“We’re hoping to grow,” she said. “We’re expecting to have 1,000 new people in the first 100 days.”
A billboard across M-24 from the new campus announces Kensington’s presence in a big way: “No perfect people allowed,” it reads. Everything about the place, from its spaciousness to Wi-Fi and a coffee bar, “is so everybody in the region knows they’re welcome here,” Gibbs said. “We would do anything to get you to come and hang out with us.”
The building will be open every day and, in addition to worship services, will serve as a meeting place for church groups, the community and even the homeless through the South Oakland Shelter. In addition to the auditorium, which can be used for all kinds of large gatherings, there are a huge entry hall, classroom-style rooms and smaller chat rooms.
One unique feature is a coffee bar. The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company’s third location, it will serve certified-organic coffee roasted locally in small batches. Located at the north end of the church building, it too will be open daily. In January a drive-thru will open.
As of Wednesday, 10,000 people had reserved seats for Christmas at Kensington services. Each service will be about 65 minutes long and feature children, drama, music, candles and carols.
“It’s a great service if you haven’t been to church in a while,” Wurm said. “Because of our large (video) screens, it doesn’t matter where you sit. Everybody’s got a great seat.”
Gibbs said the only reason Kensington builds, and builds so large, is to serve more people.
“Everything is because we want more people to come,” he said. “I do know people are hurting, people are searching. … If we can actually help people, why wouldn’t we help more?”
Services for Christmas at Kensington are at 7 p.m. Dec. 21, 4 and 6 p.m. Dec. 22, 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 23 and 10 a.m., noon and 2 and 4 p.m. Dec. 24. The church is located at 4640 South Lapeer Road, a mile north of the Palace. For more information visit Kensingtonchurch.org/orion or call (248) 786-0600.