Church breaks ground on new Clinton Township campus

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 12, 2017

 A rain-filled evening didn’t stop members from basking in the moment.

A rain-filled evening didn’t stop members from basking in the moment.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On June 22, approximately 1,600 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the nondenominational Kensington Church’s new Clinton Township campus. The 33.1-acre property, located on Hall Road between Gratiot Avenue and Interstate 94, is expected to open in spring 2018.

The new campus will replace the temporary facility that is currently located a quarter mile south at the John R. Armstrong Performing Arts Center on Frederick Pankow Boulevard. The property was bid on in May 2014, and bidding was finalized in December of that year.

It will feature an auditorium with 1,300 seats, a lobby with a fireplace, and a spot for kids to enjoy themselves. It will be the church’s fourth permanent location, joining Troy, Lake Orion and Traverse City. Eight total campuses exist across Michigan and Florida.

Also, 54 church plants exist nationwide and are legally separate entities from Kensington campuses. However, leadership, time, money, coaching and resources are invested across a global network of 10 partnerships.

Alex Calder, director of donor development for Kensington Church, said that months of anticipation led to a groundbreaking ceremony that was “bursting at the seams in attendance.” The church has simply outgrown its original Clinton Township location.

“People are ready and wish this happened yesterday,” Calder said.

Funding for the new $14 million, 61,000-square-foot facility will come from a three-year, $30 million capital campaign called Every[one]. Money will also support global and local outreach initiatives, funding new campuses and aiding church leaders globally.

Calder said the church is asking its congregations to make a pledge toward financial capital, above and beyond regular giving for operational funds. This process began in spring 2016 and will continue until spring 2019.

Steve Andrews, the lead pastor in Troy, said indigenous leaders in their own countries, like Kenya or India, oversee their own churches. Kensington Church was bred from a dream, becoming official in 1987.

“One of the core identifying works for Kensington for years and years and years has been the word ‘move,’” Andrews said. “Don’t stay static, don’t stay where you are. What if we could make thousands of churches?”

The vision of Andrews and a slew of others has become quite palpable. Normal weekend attendance across all campuses brings in approximately 15,000 people, while holidays such as Easter and Christmas bring in up to 40,000 individuals.

Church officials are excited about the new location. 

“Of all the places that we’ve ever been, it’s probably the best location,” Andrews said. “We couldn’t ever imagine being at such a great location, at the epicenter of metro Detroit.”

Chris Zarbaugh, lead pastor at the Clinton Township campus, said the church has worked hard to forge great relationships in the community since its 2006 launch. That has included working with L’Anse Creuse Public Schools and Mount Clemens Community Schools, conducting Easter egg hunts and being part of township activities.

He said the Clinton Township Board of Trustees has been very supportive since the new campus went from being a blueprint to a reality.

“Kensington is a church for people who don’t like church,” Zarbaugh said. “We try our very best to meet everyone where they’re at, and try our best to identify with what people are thinking and feeling. Most importantly, we try to make our teaching practical.

“A big component has been joy over the years. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Andrews said the idea of starting Kensington Church almost faded into obscurity. After recruiting for more than a year, he used his connections decades ago to find a group of about 13 others who shared his vision. Ultimately, about 40 adults started the venture.

“The reason Kensington exists in my heart, I wanted to reach my high school friends to Christ,” Andrews said. “I had a hard time connecting them to Christ. … The greatest strength is that we’re really flawed people, and we don’t try to hide our own flaws and own brokenness. Everybody struggles, nobody gets out of this world unscathed. We try to get out with a sense of hope.”

Zarbaugh said the anticipation and excitement of the new campus, which aims to open next May, involves every church member who has a friend or relative who isn’t part of the church. He hopes a brand new location will be aided by members finding others who want to join in the church’s message.

Progress will be documented via video tours, which will be periodically available to church members at kensingtonchurch.org.

“We really love that we get to be a long-term central part of Macomb County,” Andrews said. “We have eight campuses, but (the Clinton Township campus) is one of the most grateful, loving, happy places I’ve ever been. People are welcomed and served. I think it will be contagious.”

Call Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec at (586) 279-1118.