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The New Millennium Project

The New Millennium Project

Mathew 16:18 “And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Translations of Matt. 16:18 commonly interpret this statement by Jesus in the same way. Jesus was disclosing to all, that the apostle Peter was his most faithful and devoted follower and that God had inspired Peter to be the lead in pronouncing to all that Jesus was the Messiah and that a new church would be built with the teachings of Jesus forming its foundation. This New Testament event is universally recognized as the beginning of Christianity. It happened a lot more than 150 years ago and much earlier than the day Eden Church was founded. However, the two events share a common identity though different in scale. Jesus declared that “His Church” would collectively be his faithful followers, like Peter, spreading his teachings to all people of the world.

In 1865, a group of faithful Christians in Hayward, California gathered together to form Eden Congregational Church and declare their purpose, in common with Peter, to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ. For the past 150 years, the members of Eden United Church of Christ have continued to spread the principles of Christianity by their words and actions. This congregation has endured as a membership of open, affirming and compassionate people sharing Christian teachings with each other and the surrounding community.

So, what about the “upon this rock” part referred to in the Bible passage? It offers the imagery of a ground-breaking ceremony for a building project. A project made of concrete foundations, timber walls and roof trusses, building permits, construction inspectors, stained glass windows, carpets, lighting, paint color charts, and asphalt paving for parking spaces. Jesus may not have made the claim to be a “Construction Manager”, but the need for building structures, within which his Church members could assemble, would be the pragmatic truth for spreading the faith. Over the last 150 years, the building structures at 21455 Birch St, Hayward, have changed a number of times in part for the need to expand with a growing congregation, the evolving needs of our community and with requirements to comply with ever more demanding building codes.

The Four Phase Eden UCC Renovation Building Project initiated in December 2000, was the most ambitious, demanding, and costly re-building project attempted by the membership in its history. The first two phases focused on the renovation of the 60 year old, two story, 9000 sq ft East Wing building and construction of a new 5000 sq ft Fellowship Hall. The physical jacking and moving of the 2000 sq ft Pioneer Chapel a distance of 400 ft to its new address on Grove Way was included in this part of the renovation scope of work. Phases three and four of the campus reconstruction were completed in 2007 and involved the seismic retrofit of the 4000 sq ft Sanctuary as well as fire protection, HVAC and ADA code upgrades to the two story 11,000 sq ft West Wing building. The balance of the renovation funds gifted to the church by the Oliver Salt family bequest was used to beautify the gathering spaces with new floor coverings, colorful wall coatings, and custom-made wood pews and Chancel furnishings.

The physical improvements to the campus of Eden Church reflect the skill and pride of all the various building trade workers and professional construction staff engaged on the project. However, the real commendations for their dedication and perseverance to oversee the management of this seven-year building project belong to the members of the New Millennium Committee, Pastor Arlene Nehring, and the supportive membership of Eden Church. Within the comfort and beauty of a new structurally safe and renovated campus, the membership of Eden Church now worships together and welcomes all seeking the redeeming message from the carpenter of Nazareth.

Steve Ryken, Co-Chairman, NMC

For the 150th Anniversary Committee