Cascade Covenant Church expands facility to accommodate growing youth ministry

NORTH BEND - Cascade Covenant Church is dealing with a problem every church wants to deal with - growth.

While some churches try hard just to keep attendance steady, Cascade Covenant has been steadily growing. Less than four years after opening its 13,000-square-foot facility, the nondenominational Christian church needed a new 5,400-square-foot addition. The new building was built especially for the church's youth ministries that are serving the congregation's fast-growing young families demographic.

"We wanted to give them [children in the church] some 'bling' [something nice]," said Liann Smith, who heads the church's youth ministries for children through the fifth grade.

Lead pastor John Jenks started the church in 1989 with a few others and held the first Sunday services at the Si View Community Center. The church grew and began looking for a permanent building to call its own. The church purchased land at the end of Cedar Falls Way east of North Bend and opened its doors in 2002.

About a year after opening, however, the congregation realized it was still pressed for space. Close to half of the average Sunday's 350-375 church-goers were younger than 18. Sunday school classes and youth group meetings were growing and quarters were so cramped that the high-school group met across the street at the home of a church member.

Paying attention to the needs of the youth ministries was important, church leaders said. Karen Miller, who heads the church's middle- and high-school ministries, said the youth activities at Covenant are more than just good times to keep kids busy. In addition to Sunday services, there are weekday-night programs for the middle- and high-school students where small groups meet to discuss various topics and contemplate the bigger questions of life.

"Kids are looking for something a bit deeper," Miller said.

The intent, Jenks said, is not just to get kids involved, but to keep them plugged into the church and its happenings beyond youth group. The kids learn leadership by heading their own groups and worship bands and eventually start to help with the church's other activities. When the church held an autumn celebration last week, about 50 kids came to help out.

Jenks said that kind of involvement will deepen faith and help ensure that kids remain connected to God when they leave their homes.

To give those youth ministries a home, the church opened its new addition last month. Though there is some storage and office space, most of the addition is made up of five classrooms now used by the church's younger attendees.

At the end of the hall in the addition is one big room for the middle- and high-school ministries that can be partitioned into separate rooms. There are, of course, bells and whistles to impress the hard to impress. The room has its own kitchen for food preparation, couches for lounging and a fireplace. A sound system can be controlled with a remote and there is a projector to screen movies. The band equipment rivals what is in the main sanctuary.

There is still room to grow, as well. Jenks said that when the church decided to construct its own facility, it planned a three-phase buildout, with the main building constituting the first phase and the recent addition being the second. There is space for a third phase on the property that Jenks said could be an extension of the church's sanctuary.

In the meantime, church leaders are putting the finishing touches on the new addition. Track lighting went in two weeks ago and Miller was looking for ways to protect the new carpet. Church leaders are pleased that those who are still growing now have a place to grow into.

* For information about Cascade Covenant Church, call (425) 831-6222 or visit

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