Solomon Category: Outdoor Spaces Victory Life Church 6892 D Drive North Battle Creek, MI 49014 Lead Pastor: James Sunnock History: Founded in 2002 with 65 people Current Attendance: 1600-2000 Scope of Project: In March of 2016, Victory Life Church broke ground on a $6.9 million, 32,000 sq. ft. addition. Utilizing four years of planning along with a team commitment by the Jeffrey Parker architect, Pioneer Construction as the builder and the church, the project finished on time and on budget. The build completed on March 4, 2017 and was nothing short of extraordinary. Outdoor Space: Four years of planning and vision casting were involved before the shovels hit the ground. Rather than the focus being on the new worship center, we wanted to design the facility, both inside and out, to draw in the community and then create community within. Being located within the city limits yet on dangerously narrow country roads, the inspiration for our outside design was to create an atmosphere similar to Central Park in New York City. We wanted to give the look and feel of serenity and relaxation nestled between two subdivision neighborhoods, allowing our church and surrounding community a chance to forget we are still located in the city of Battle Creek. Because of our awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of our neighbors and their lack of safe walking spaces on this side of town, we designed a three-quarter mile walking path that has drawn the surrounding community in ways we never imagined. At all times of day people either drive in and park to walk the path or have created their own dirt access to get to our walking trail from the neighboring subdivisions. We have a variety of visitors from older people walking dogs to runners, bikers and everything in between, the walking path is drawing our community closer to our church than we ever imagined. Because of our vision to only clear the trees needed to build our church property but leave the surrounding outlying trees intact, we have a host of deer, geese and wild animals that like to frequent the walking path as well another draw for the community as well as a joy for the staff and congregation to view from inside the building. The walking path has been such a success that the surrounding neighborhoods have already asked if we will maintain its safety in the winter with snow removal so that they can continue to walk year round. This spring we hope to add benches located strategically around the trail to give people a place to rest, fellowship, talk or pray during their time of exercise. In addition, we are adding four placards to create a prayer walk of sorts, encouraging people to pray for family, economic development, local government and our schools. Everything we incorporate is designed to draw people back to a sense of community and belonging. Another goal in the distant future would be to consider adding a play structure at the entrance of the walking path to help bring people of our church together and to invite them to stay longer after the services are over as well as be another resource for the community to use as that is severely lacking on our side of town. We have also created a beautiful serene outside space directly off the worship center and it is a focal point for those enjoying the café. We created approximately 50 spaces of permanent seating on the rock walls to help accommodate our congregation during our times of corporate fellowship. We strategically placed trees along the barrier of the space to give the look and feel of a community picnic, further reinforcing the environment of Central Park on a lazy Saturday afternoon. We brought in a designer who shared our passion and he created a waterfall that was designed with safety in mind, having no standing water that would be a potential hazard to families and little children yet offering the peace and serenity we envisioned. This creates a sound barrier, along with the tree border to draw people out to the courtyard to relax and fellowship with one another. Lastly, there is a big open space conducive for team sports, which can be used during youth group as well as for team building on mission trips and other activities where a large space is required. Our church hosts the largest Easter egg hunt in Central Michigan annually and this event was front and center in our minds when planning the logistics of the outdoor space. The hallmark of the outdoor space is fellowship and community. Our walking path invites community onto our property to take a closer look at our friendliness and welcoming atmosphere, beckoning them to come inside and build a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our outside space easily accommodates our corporate events or creates a relaxing atmosphere on our patio, drawing people to linger after a service. All of this was created with a vision of bringing community together and helping them to grow strong bonds through the development of friendship and fellowship. The growth of our church since the expansion was completed lets us know it was a success.