Over the summer, Covenant College received one of the largest financial gifts ever received by the college. When Grace Presbyterian Church closed its doors permanently, the members elected a task force to determine the future of the assets. They chose to continue the mission of the church in serving the Covenant College community by donating the building to the school. The building has been renamed “The Kirk,” which is the Scottish term for church as a memorial to the building's original purpose.
Chief Financial Officer Dan Wykoff said, “Because of the church's very long relationship with the College, the trustees of the church decided that gifting the property to Covenant made the most sense in accomplishing the church's mission of serving this community. Needless to say, the College is immensely grateful for this wonderful gift.”
The gift to the college included eight and a half acres of land, a newly paved parking lot, and a fully functional building, including a sanctuary with approximately 200 seats, a furnished kitchen, multiple large meeting rooms, and several offices on the lower level. The music department is especially grateful for the pipe organ and second organ console which were donated. The donation also included a large amount of tables, chairs, and office furniture.
Since the building was handed over to the college, it has been used for many academic and extracurricular events. Currently, the music department most often uses the space. This semester the music department has held multiple classes, performance seminars, and choir practices in the former church building. The multiple conference rooms host RUF large group meetings, as well as Covenant College board meetings. The theater department has also used the building for rehearsals. The parking lot is used for off campus student and special event parking.
The college has begun the process of determining how the building will be used.
“A task force has been formed to address the question of what The Kirk will ultimately be used for. This task force consists of representatives from the Administration, Staff, Faculty, and Student Body,” said Wykoff.
The task force is discussing many possibilities for the building, including use by the music and theater departments, students housing, or a new student activity center.
“I expect that the task force will make a final recommendation to the Senior Administration by the end of November,” Wykoff said. Wykoff could not guarantee when any changes would be made. Any funds for renovations would come from the colleges allocated budget for college repairs and improvements.
Grace Presbyterian was started by the Covenant community shortly after the college moved to Lookout Mountain in the early 1960’s. Since then the church has had a fluctuating membership of Covenant college faculty, staff and students, as well as other community members from the area. In the last year or so membership and tithes dwindled to the point where the church could no longer sustain itself.