Kalamazoo church planning something brand new

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – One of the oldest buildings in Kalamazoo is planning something brand new.

First Baptist Church is using its declining membership as the inspiration for a new business model, one that brings people of all faiths, ages, and interests into the same space.

Pastor Dave Nichols takes great pride in the history and beauty of his more than 160-year-old church home, but the large expansive space just seems to be getting even bigger.

“We realize as our congregation, it’s gotten smaller and smaller, it probably doesn’t have the capacity to be able to maintain this building long term,” said Pastor Nichols, “and so we’re really seeing the building become something different.”

First Baptist Churchis considering a permanent identity as co-op space for the community.

“Whether that’s shared space, dedicated office space, performance space, recording space,” said Betsy Start, Michigan Festival of Sacred Music.

And the ideas, keep coming.

“Have you ever thought of having an indoor hydroponic garden?” said Pastor Nichols, “and I said I can honestly say it never crossed my mind.”

Now, it’s a reality on the third floor.

“Everything we have done here has introduced us to someone else and has led to someone else thinking about coming here,” said Pastor Nichols.

“It’s kind of like a neutral ground where all these different ages, all these different cultures can just meet and go there,” said local musician Nicholas Baxter.

Baxter wants to create a café for refugees he works with to cool and sell traditional foods and share music. He says the idea of people from different cultures interacting is;

“It would be a dream,” said Baxter. “It would be like something out of a dream, it really would.”

Pastor Nichols says that while he wants to preserve and protect his historic place of worship, it’s about so much more than the building. It’s about creating community and serving people.

“It’s just been amazing how, what this has led to,” said Pastor Nichols.

Currently the church is still working out the details of how a co-op or arts collective would work. If you are interested in the available space, give the church a call.

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