We don’t stop very often to celebrate the small victories.
It seems like life moves 100 miles per hour and we just finish one task and move on to the next. However, on Monday night, life seemed to slow down for me. It took a hug and a firm hand shake from a young pastor to stop me in my tracks. A small celebration between two new friends who had bonded in pursuit of a mutual goal.
A few minutes before, Pastor Corey James had just received approval from the Auburn Hills City Council to convert a vacant office building into a permanent facility for the Community Impact Church. The 2½ year old congregation currently meets in rented space at the First General Baptist Church in Downtown Auburn Hills. Now, they finally have a place to call their own.
It may seem hard to believe, but finding a new home for the non-denominational Christian church was not easy. We first met Pastor James and members of his congregation in early July 2011, when they were looking at occupying part of an industrial building near Featherstone. Our team met them at the site and after looking at the place, we knew right away that the building would not be a good fit for a church. It did not have enough parking and needed substantial, cost prohibitive upgrades per building and fire codes to safely accommodate large gatherings of people. We were straighforward and open with them about the challenges, but the news was frustrating. Pastor James wanted a space for his church and our advice seemed like a big roadblock.
A few days after the meeting, Pastor James spoke to Building Inspector Hosea Crumpler about his frustrations with the process. Hosea explained to him that we were protecting the congregation and proactively suggested that they look at the vacant building at 2240 N. Opdyke Road. Before we knew it, the church bought the building. However, they still needed a special permit from the City Council to operate.
At first, it seemed like a simple task for the church to obtain the necessary permits. The vacant building was perfect in terms of size and location for their growing congregation. It was a win-win for everyone. As discussed in my previous blog – A Few Can Make A Big Impact – we had an active member of the community choosing to stay and relocate in Auburn Hills. You could not write a better story.
However, complications arose with the fact that the church would be too close, per State Law, to a restaurant that sold alcohol. Together, we thought that we solved that challenge, until more questions were raised which caused a two-week delay. The Pastor was worried that the congregation may not be able to worship at this “perfect” building they had already purchased. It was another roadblock. Feeling his frustration, I personally reassured him that we would get the church through this … that everything would be OK.
So, after the City Council unanimously approved the church’s permit Monday night – we both knew that we accomplished something important together as a team. Pastor James gave me a hug and wanted me to know that “together we made history” in the life of his church. Those words went straight to my heart.
As a drove home after the meeting, I remembered his words and tried hard to calm my mind. My small role in helping Pastor James reminded me that I am so very blessed. I not have only found my calling as a public servant, but also have the privilege to work at a place like the City of Auburn Hills.
Congratulations Pastor James. Thank you for choosing to grow your church in our town. Thank you for the small victory.