Members of Living Waters Covenant Church realized the need, and when its Sunny Days Preschool closed a year and a half ago, a committee tasked with finding a new purpose for the space opted to have it transformed into a gathering room.

With a private entrance already in place for the preschool, the idea quickly garnered a vote of support from the congregation.

Pastors John and Kris Stewart said the room renovation began last fall, when church members volunteered to help dismantle the remnants of the preschool, including the removal of an extremely heavy accordion-style room divider.

“We had a big night where we demoed a lot of stuff,” shared John. “Then we had teams come in and paint the cupboards and the walls. It was a good turnout.”

“This church does that really well when we have a project,” added Kris. “People rally to get things done.”

Katie Hansen, owner of Revive Interiors, was hired to help re-imagine the space that would become known as the Oasis. She developed a color scheme with shades of turquoise and grey and selected the furnishings.

“Katie came in and gave us the plans and the estimate of what she thought it was going to cost,” said John.

Less than 24 hours later, John was visited by Jim Nickel, who said he wanted to give a donation to the church in memory of his parents, Arvid “Bud” and Pauline Nickel.

“He said, ‘This is how much. Is there a project?’” John recalled. The amount was almost to the dollar of what Hansen had quoted for the room renovation — and it seemed fitting given that many of the Nickels’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended Sunny Days Preschool.

John said he’s heard people use the phrase, “It was a God thing,” and he can’t dispute it.

Ultimately, the contribution from the Nickel family and memorial funds from the Harold and Thelma Wass family paid for the entire project.

“We are really grateful for the Nickel and Wass families for their generosity,” Kris shared.

In addition to Hansen’s design for the space, the church hired parishioner Chad Kremer, who owns a construction company, to install flooring, a tile backsplash in the kitchenette and double doors to access the adjacent youth room. Also integral to the project were parishioners Robin Redman (owner of Studio 77 Designs) and her husband, Robert, who provided expertise and labor.

The newly renovated space was finished in early April, complete with tables and chairs, a relaxed seating area and Wi-Fi connectivity. Its calming colors, framed biblical quotes and large painting of palm trees provides a serene setting for public gatherings.

The church’s single-level design, as well as handicap-accessible restrooms near the Oasis, make it a good option for people in need of a space to gather.

“Hopefully people view it as a relaxing place,” said John. “We have had a couple of youth groups meet here and do some prayer things — it’s been good for that.

“In this age of COVID, we’re looking to have some ministry outreach where people are looking to get away — spend an hour or two reflectively,” he added.

With the coronavirus pandemic closing churches briefly in early spring, the church wasn’t able to celebrate the new space as hoped. A kickoff for the Oasis was planned as part of the church’s 125th anniversary celebration this summer, but when the decision was made last week to postpone the celebration until next summer, it wanted to spread the word that the Oasis is available for community use.

The room, with a maximum capacity of 40 people, is available to rent by the day. To book a rental or for more information, call the church at 376-5109.