Scott and Brenda Schaefer were walking at NorthPark Mall one day when they spotted two storefronts near one end of the Davenport shopping center.
“I looked over at this area and said, ‘This would be a great place for the prayer center,’ ” he said, standing in the midst of some construction work at what is, in fact, the new Quad-Cities Prayer Center.
The idea — which Schaefer first got about 14 years ago — is finally coming into focus in former retail spaces next to the Sears store and across the mall hallway from the Von Maur department store. The area used to be a pet shop, a discount shoe store and a ceramics workshop.
In just a few weeks, the new Connect Coffee House at the center will be open to mall shoppers.
“We are very excited by this,” said Schaefer, the executive director of the prayer center. “It’s actually a vision come true for us.”
Schaefer spent many years in his career as the music minister at Heritage Wesleyan Church in Rock Island. He produced the Creative Christmas event, which attracted crowds of up to 12,000 people and was held at the Davenport RiverCenter and what is now the i wireless Center in Moline.
He went out on his own five years ago with the idea of setting up the prayer center as a place of worship and a resource for other churches in the Quad-Cities.
Schaefer describes it as neutral ground with evangelical Christian programming. The Quad-Cities Prayer Center will host praise gatherings, music and offer several places to pray. Eventually, it will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
At first, Schaefer thought the mall space would be too expensive. But the mall’s management group has been easy to work with, he said. The $350,000 renovation effort is aimed at a soft opening around the holidays or early January at the latest.
The Connect Coffee House fronts the mall. When the mall is open, the coffee house will serve sandwiches, soups and coffee. The shop has a stage area for musical performances and a video screen to list events at the center.
Next to the shop are two private prayer rooms that can be reserved. A larger prayer room/conference room is nearby and can be reserved by groups, Schaefer said. That room will have a conference table, chairs and multimedia capabilities.
The front side facing the mall includes offices, restrooms and storage areas. Classrooms will house the School of Worship next fall. The 10-month program teaches people how to serve their churches through the arts. The spaces, also equipped with multimedia equipment, can be rented by other churches, businesses looking for training or as a retreat site.
“The Quad-Cities Prayer Center will be fully functional for the first time in five years,” Schaefer said.
Sanctuary seats 325
The second phase of the building project will include production areas and a large sanctuary space capable of seating 325 people.
The Invictus Multi Media production area will have a new studio, mixing room and video room. It includes restrooms, a kitchenette and exterior access so musicians can enter the production area without taking their instruments through the sanctuary.
A new activity for the center involves prayer requests. Video screens around the sanctuary will include the requests for prayers for local individuals or groups.
“What’s submitted to us, we’ll put in there,” Schaefer said.
The sanctuary includes a stage area and new seating. The décor will be in earth tones, and the walls of the sanctuary will include various names for “God,” such as “Yahweh.” These words will be shadowed on the walls of the sanctuary.
“We want this to be a place where you can sense God,” Schaefer said. The goal is for it to be a blessing for the mall and for the churches of the Quad-Cities, he explained.
“We want to be a central resource area for the churches,” he added.