DAVISON — After 16 years in the community without a true home, Journey Ministries is hoping it can finally plant roots with a worship and community center on Main Street.
Pastor David Weir and Dr. Mike Dell, chairman of the board at Journey Ministries, came to the Davison City Council May 10 to seek input from officials on whether the city would support selling city-owned property at Main and Rising streets for construction of a community center that would also double as a worship hall.
For the years Journey Ministries have held services in Davison, they have always done so on Sundays at Davison Middle School. But during the pandemic, the congregation of about 300 found itself displaced after the building was closed to them due to COVID-19 restrictions.
For the past year, the church has been meeting at its offices at 102 Main St., located in the former Wickes Big Acre building just south of the railroad tracks.
Weir said accommodations have been cramped and the congregation has been able to meet outdoors as weather has improved, but conditions are still not ideal.
“We’ve been looking for different location,” said Weir. “We are a church in the community, we like being in our community. We are on the same team; we are working within the same community and it makes no sense for us to move forward with this property unless the city council agrees with us moving forward.”
The two parcels in question are located next to the Journey Ministries office, one being a parking lot. Both parcels are owned by the city.
Weir said the parking lot would be improved and used for parking at the facility next door. Currently used as parking for employees at Bisbee Automotive, he said the church would still allow those employees to use the parking lot when the church doesn’t need it.
Weir said a community center would hold about 300 people and would serve as a portable church, with chairs set up for Sunday services and then they’d be taken down for use throughout the week.
“For the community we see this as a place of refuge, a place of health,” said Weir. “Every Wednesday we are giving away between 50-100 boxes of food from the Journey Center presently. We are trying to be the church in community as much as we possibly can.”
Weir said the facility would also be used for the church’s youth ministry and kids’ ministry because it is within walking distance of the middle school and high school.
“We would love to do afterschool programs and mentoring,” said Weir, adding Journey Ministries already does those things, but would like to expand the programs to better serve the congregation and community.
Weir said the community center will also be available for city and community functions, not exclusively for Journey Ministries.
“If we were able to build a building there that can hold 300-400 people that would help us tremendously to be able to take care of our own congregation in our faith-based community there,” he said. “We see weddings, we see funerals we see baptisms – these types of things happening inside that building as well as city or community activities.”
Weir said Journey Ministries has already given away about $25,000 in the community this past year, to different missions and organizations. During the pandemic, he said the church gave financial assistance to some restaurant owners and the people who work in restaurants from the community.
“So, we have a very big passion to be working within our community,” he said. “We are journey in community. We will use that space for more ministry, but also more community.”
Councilwoman Jamie Stebbins asked if Journey Ministries were to build downtown if it would affect the types of businesses that can locate there.
In question were potential future liquor licenses for establishments looking to locate downtown.
Weir said the church already signed off on the papers waiving the requirement that businesses serving alcohol cannot be located near a church because Main Street is considered an entertainment district.
Mayor Tim Bishop said the council was in support of the community center but added the sale of the property would first have to be approved by voters.
“Once it’s approved by voters, we can sell it to whoever we want,” said Bishop. “It has to be at one of the four elections during the year.”
The next available election the question could be voted on would be in August 2022, said City Manager Andrea Schroeder, unless the county was to place something on the November ballot this year.
Weir asked if Journey Ministries could pay for an earlier special election because it estimates it will take 18-months to gain approvals and build the community center.
Schroeder said she would seek an answer to that question from Genesee County.
The council gave nearly unanimous approval to the idea of a Journey Ministries worship and community center by a vote of six in favor. Councilman Chris Hinkley had to abstain because he is a member of the Journey Ministries congregation.