It’s time for us to grow.

The goal of the Grow initiative: to stir our hearts to invest in the lives of people who don’t know Jesus and to provide the tools we need within our facility to be a welcoming place where people can encounter Jesus. Grow will call us to make two primary commitments together as a church family.

What are we aiming for?

Have a “One”

Jesus’ mission, and ours, is a relational mission. When Jesus says to go into the world to make disciples, and when He says to love our neighbor, He is saying we have to have relationships with people who are outside His church.

We need to build friendships and make relational investments so that others will know Jesus.

That’s why we are asking everyone to commit to having a “One,” a person with whom you can invest time and energy toward building a relationship. Likely, you already know this person.

Your “One” is not a project, but a person with whom you want to know better so that God may open opportunities for you to share Jesus.

Give Sacrificially

In addition to praying and identifying people we want to build relationship with, we are embarking on three major initiatives as a community. These initiatives are the direct result of a years-long look at First Pres’ mission, vision and priorities. They will require us all to financially contribute above and beyond our annual giving, which funds what we already are doing. Together, these initiatives will help us Grow.

We are seeking to raise $1.5 million to fund these initiatives:

  • Creating a church-planting incubator at 9 Court Square and connecting it to our Courtyard and the historic part of our facility
  • Strengthening our children’s and family ministries by creating an updated and more secure area for these ministries and connecting the area with our newly created Courtyard and 9 Court Square
  • Reimagining our welcome area to create more hospitality for guests and better flow to our children’s wing, the Courtyard and 9 Court Square

The projects to help us grow


In addition to praying and identifying people we want to build relationships with, we are embarking on three major initiatives as a community. These initiatives are the direct result of a years-long look at First Pres’ mission, vision and priorities. They will require us all to financially contribute above and beyond our annual giving, which funds what we already are doing.

Together, these initiatives will help us Grow.

We are seeking to raise $1.5 million to fund these projects.

Open each of the tabs below to read more.

Growing ... by Planting Churches

In 1789, a group of people from Rockingham County decided that Harrisonburg, then the new city center, needed a church of its own.

More than two centuries later, this “church plant” has been a vital part of our community and is still in the heart of our city and county.

Church planting is in First Pres’ founding, and it is part of our DNA, as, in past decades, the church has planted other churches. 

While it’s been some time since we’ve planted a church, we are ready to reactivate this part of our identity by creating a church-planting incubator at 9 Court Square, the building next to our newly created Courtyard.

The vision is for a space on the first floor where a church plant could start, grow and be launched. We are aiming for a flexible space that could also be used for regularly for evangelism. The second floor could be leased out or could be a space for other ministries’ offices.

Already, Session has established and is providing annual funding to a church-planting committee with the goal of participating in some kind of church plant every five years. We know that far too many of our friends and neighbors, not to mention people throughout the world are, in the words of Ephesians 2:12 “without hope and without God in the world.” We also know that planting churches is the most effective way to change this. 

Creating a church-planting incubator at 9 Court Square will be a key part of our work.

Growing ... the Next Generation

More than two-thirds of children who grow up in churches like ours will walk away from faith for a season, and many never return.

This is not acceptable.

So we are renewing our commitment to disciple families and children. That commitment is as important as it ever has been, especially as the world disciples our kids and families in all kinds of ways that do not align with the truth of God’s word.

Every one of us, when a child is baptized, vows to help families raise their children to know and follow Jesus. We want to fulfill those vows, and part of that means creating a friendly, welcoming, secure space for our discipleship efforts.

Renovating the first-floor children’s wing and nursery area, adding classrooms and creating a connection to the Courtyard through the Old Fellowship Hall and unused kitchen will help create a space where we can invite friends and neighbors to be part of these discipleship efforts.

Growing ... in Our Hospitality

First Pres is in the heart of Harrisonburg. 

Our current facility on Court Square, built in 1908, gives us a unique opportunity to grow God’s kingdom in the central Shenandoah Valley.

To strengthen that opportunity, we need to make our facility more welcoming by creating a more open space for fellowship and greeting. We also need to create better access and flow to our newly constructed Courtyard. We can do that by reimagining our existing lobby area and creating a natural flow from the oldest part of First Pres to the newest, the Courtyard on Court Square.

Creating the welcoming space will also create a link to our newly envisioned children’s wing.

Visual Flyover

In this conceptual rendering, you get an idea of how these spaces may come together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What process did church leadership use to arrive at the Grow initiative?

Our pastors and elders engaged in a multi-year process to articulate our vision and strategic goals based on our mission of loving Jesus, boldly proclaiming Truth, serving our neighbor and growing God’s kingdom. That process included input from the congregation and all our ministry teams and committees. The process led us to prioritize discipleship and evangelism, and using our facilities toward those goals. Three major projects emerged, and they are part of this initiative: creating a church-planting incubator at 9 Court Square and connecting the courtyard to our historic building, improving our children’s ministry areas and creating a more welcoming lobby for guests. 

Will we take on debt for the projects?

The elders have determined not to take on long-term debt to complete the projects, but they are open to short-term construction loans as long as campaign commitments are in line with the loan amounts. 

Can surplus operating funds or designated funds be used for the projects?

Some surplus funds might be used for initial phases of the project, such as engineering and permitting, to create a more condensed and efficient timeline for the projects. Estimates call for engineering and permitting to take about four months and actual construction to take about eight months. 

What happens if we do not raise the amount desired?

If we don’t raise $1.5 million to complete these projects, then Session will determine how to prioritize what needs to be completed with the funds committed.  

What if we raise more than we are aiming for?

If we raise more than we are aiming for, other planned and prioritized projects that contribute to our mission and vision can be initiated. The projects that are part of this campaign are the current priorities. 

What specifically will we use 9 Court Square for?

The goal is to create a flexible space on the first floor so that a new church plant would have space to begin. The goal would be for that church plant to eventually have its own space, which frees up the space for future launches.  That’s why we call 9 Court Square a church-planting incubator. The second floor will contain offices that can either be leased to generate revenue or that we can offer to ministries we support at a low or no cost. 

What's the timeline of the projects?

Because we are committed to funding these initiatives with no long-term debt, the start date for these projects depends mostly on the success of our fund-raising efforts. Once funding is deemed acceptable, the typical process begins with engineering bids, engineering and permitting. This can take a few months, and then construction can begin. One vendor has estimated it could take eight months to complete the three projects once engineering and permitting is completed. If more funds than the goal are committed, more initiatives will be funded and final project completion timeframes extended – which would be a blessing. 

Why aren't we using the Courtyard more?

The courtyard has been used for numerous events in 2022, including several downtown festivals and events, as well as for church events such as our church picnic and children’s events such as Summer JAM Camp. To use it even more, we need to create a better flow to the courtyard from the historic part of our building and the sanctuary. We also need to create bathroom and kitchenet facilities that are more accessible to the courtyard and don’t require travel through the building. 

What is First Pres asking of me as part of Grow?

Start with prayer. Ask God how you can join your First Pres family in growing in our evangelism and our discipleship, and in leveraging our facilities toward those ends. One of your commitments will be relational: We are all praying for and developing a relationship with at least one person who isn’t walking with Jesus. This is a crucial component of our mission and of Grow. The second commitment is a sacrificial financial commitment above and beyond your regular giving to the church.  We are not asking for equal gifts from all in our church family, but rather equal sacrifice consistent with how God has blessed each of us financially. Our leadership team is praying for 100% participation with these two commitments from our church family. 

Just imagine the impact