Your IBSA building in Springfield has a new living room. When I write “your,” I really do mean it. While the IBSA building provides office space for your IBSA staff, 3085 Stevenson Drive also serves Illinois Baptists from all over the state, throughout the year. It’s your building, and you are welcome!
And by “living room” I’m referring specifically to an inviting new space in your building that has been designed to enhance that welcome. Just recently, inside the main entrance and to the left as you enter the building, we have renovated previously vacant office space and a 50-year-old kitchen into a café, a casual seating area, a modern kitchen, and a large meeting room designed and equipped especially for the dozens of IBSA committee meetings and conferences that will now gather there.
This renovated space also now opens onto an attractive patio, where meeting goers can step outside during breaks, or where mild weather events can be hosted. When we dedicated the area following the last IBSA Board meeting, I spontaneously referred to it as our new “living room” for Illinois Baptists, a gathering place for those who desire to join their lives together on mission for years to come.
A few days later, I was sitting in the new meeting room, enjoying the view of the accessible new patio. I realized that the spot where I was sitting was once in my first office at IBSA, and my thoughts flashed back to what used to be.
At that time overgrown ground cover surrounded the building, and I was told that we didn’t open the heavy sliding doors to the old patio because mice, snakes, rabbits, and who knows what else lurked just outside, and apparently in the past had come inside. That’s why, when a main sewer line broke just beyond the patio a few years ago, we took the opportunity to tear out the hip-high jungle and replace it with grass and an irrigation system.
Also, back when your new living room was my office, our IBSA staff worked on three of the building’s four floors, in many cases much closer to tenants than their co-workers. So about ten years ago, we took the necessary steps to move our staff onto one floor, and then remodeled the first floor into its current conference and meeting space, providing new technology to serve it.
Continuing my mental stroll down memory lane, I recalled the IBSA Board telling me in my early days that the building’s entire air conditioning system would soon need replacing. Also, there were no exterior building signs. The front steps were starting to crumble. The parking lot needed resurfacing. Oh, and we should talk about the needs of both IBSA camp properties.
Sitting there in what’s now your new living room, I remembered with gratitude that over several years, one step at a time, sometimes one problem at a time, we had gradually addressed each of these challenges, and renewed each of IBSA’s main gathering spaces. The new living room was simply one of the final touches.
It was a good moment for me, not just to remember how far we have come by God’s grace in stewarding our physical facilities, but in how much resolve and determination and time it often takes to repair, to renew, to revitalize. It’s true in our churches, and in our cooperative mission together, and even in each of our spiritual lives. Sometimes the progress we desire can seem painstakingly slow, and the problems we must solve can seem painfully expensive. That’s why, every now and then, we need to sit and look out the window for a minute, and recall how things used to be, and how far we’ve come.