A Brief History
In 1989, Steve Andrews personally knocked on 1,400 doors in Oakland County, asking people why they didn't go to church. Their answers shaped his vision for a new kind of church.
In March 1990, Steve and co-founders Dave Wilson and Mark Nelson recruited 1,600 church-going friends and supporters to join them in starting a "seeker friendly" church. 17 said yes. 1,583 said no.
By August, a tiny core team of 40 began praying and practicing in the rented cafeteria of East Hills Middle School on Kensington Road (so that's where the name came from!) in Bloomfield Hills.
On September 30, 1990, Kensington held its first service. Thanks to a well-timed mailer and a "providential" front-page article in the Detroit Free Press, an amazing 463 people showed up.
Three days later we kicked off our midweek service in the first of 25 different rented facilities. Our motto in those days was, "If you can find us, you can join us."
In April 1991, we moved into the old Troy High School on Livernois.
In May 1991, Maple Hills Church merged with Kensington, for a combined attendance of 500.
In October 1991, we launched the original eight small groups, called "Friendship Groups."
In August 1992, we moved our Sunday services to the new $36 million Troy High School on Long Lake. Attendance passed the 1,000 mark.
In September 1993, attendance hit 1,500 and we added a third Sunday service. Every week, volunteers hauled 55,000 pounds of equipment in three giant trailers to set up (and then tear down) our portable church.
Despite being warned that no suitable land was available anywhere in Oakland County, we held our first "Homeward Bound" fundraising drive in November 1993.
As people continued giving toward a permanent home, our first mission trip sent 36 volunteers to Brazil to build a church in July 1994.
God miraculously opened the door to buy 40 acres on the corner of Square Lake at John R Road in Troy, and we broke ground in June 1997.
After eight years of meeting in rented facilities, we finally cut the ribbon on our own building on February 28, 1999. Attendance at the three Sunday services in the new 1,500-seat auditorium soon topped 3,000.
In September of 2000, we added our fourth weekend service on Saturdays. That Christmas, total attendance hit 8,800 people in seven holiday services. Despite a new building, we were already running out of room.
In March 2001, 975 families and individuals made a three-year financial commitment to a building fund called MaxImpact. Every person was asked to pray, "God, what do you want to do through me to accomplish your will at Kensington?" Incredibly, pledges totaled $13.4 million.
On May 9, 2001, we broke ground on the 50,000 square-foot Training Center. It was built to provide 400-seat special event rooms for student ministries like edge and Breakaway, plus classrooms for Treasure Island, and space for the Kensington School of the Arts.
On October 19, 2001, Kensington's first church plant held its grand opening in Royal Oak, Michigan. genesis the church was the first prototype of Vision2020, our church planting strategy to launch 40 new multiplying churches by the year 2020, reaching 250,000 people.
13 months after breaking ground, on June 22, 2002, the Training Center was completed. 1,000 Treasure Island kids had space to learn about God and over 100 different ministries had meeting rooms available. For the first time, the KCC office staff could work on-site at the church building.
On September 29, 2002, our second church plant, called the river, debuted in the northwestern suburbs of Highland-Hartland. Weekend attendance now averages over 1,000 at two Sunday services.
In spring 2003, 60 adults and kids quit their jobs, sold their homes and followed teaching pastor Dave Nelson (with Detroit Lions' All-Pro Luther Ellis) west to Salt Lake City, Utah. Since opening on September 26, 2004, K2 has grown to three packed-out Sunday services.
On September 28, 2003, Kensington launched its first extension campus in Rochester Hills. 400 people from the Troy Campus switched locations to make the "North Campus" a success. Meeting in Adams High School, it now offers 3 Sunday services with a weekend attendance of 2,000.
In winter 2004, Kensington had a record-breaking 656 small groups participating in a church-wide study of the 40 Days of Purpose series. Over 5,000 adults, students and new visitors met in weekly small groups to discuss the weekend messages. Attendance grew by about 1,500.
In October 2004, we broke ground on our 400-seat Chapel, designed to provide an intimate setting for key life milestones like weddings, baptisms and funerals, plus room for Troy's overflow "video community."
In April 2005, Kensington was host to nearly 20,000 visitors at our 16 Easter week services. Growth at Troy and Rochester campuses was steady, with weekend attendance of 7,000.
On July 27, 2005, we held our second public baptism service at Stony Creek Metropark in nearby Shelby. A record-breaking 265 adults and students were baptized in the lake before a crowd of 2,000 supporters.
In August 2005, Kensington hosted the Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit for the fourth time. A record-breaking 1,100 delegates from over 200 different churches attended the three-day training event.
Plans for a second Detroit area extension campus began in the summer of 2005. Locations were researched as enthusiastic core team of 300 "east-siders" started meeting regularly.
Supporters of a new "western suburbs" campus started meeting in fall 2005. Target date for this Birmingham-Bloomfield campus opening was fall 2007.
In fall 2005, Kensington's Rochester Hills Campus put a bid on 36-acres of prime land in Auburn Hills near the M-24 corridor for a future permanent home.
In early December 2005, the new Chapel and fully remodeled lobby was unveiled to the public and dedicated to God in a special "premier" service.
Our Clinton Township Campus opened its doors to the public on September 24, 2006. The jammed-out grand opening saw over 2,000 people flock to the John Armstrong Performing Arts Center.
In August 2007, 304 people were baptized at Stony Creek Metropark. In a 12-month period 410 believers were baptized.
On September 23, 2007, our fourth campus launched at Groves High School in Birmingham, with 1,500 grand opening attenders.
A record 25,400 people attended one of 27 identical Christmas services at 4 campuses during December 2007.
Our three-year Trans4mation capital campaign kicked off in March 2008, raising $20 million in pledges to renovate existing campuses, build a permanent facility in Auburn Hills, and erect hospitals in Kenya and India.
In June 2008, Craig & Chris Mayes and a team of Michiganders moved to New York to birth "Communitas." This unique church plant is now working in the community and holding weekly meetings in St. George's Chapel in Manhattan's Gramercy Park. Public services are slated for 2009.
Kensington Lake Orion, our fifth campus, opened at Lake Orion High School on January 11, 2009 with 1,100 in attendance.
Our first "regional campus" opened in Orlando, Florida in fall 2010. The Orlando Campus now meets in Windermere Preparatory School in Windermere.
On Easter 2011, our Rochester Hills and Lake Orion campuses were blended into one new group called "Orion Campus." This group meets in Lake Orion High School while preparations continue for a permanent facility to reach the North Oakland County area.
In July 2011, we purchased an existing building on M-24 in Orion Township. This 72,000 square-foot industrial warehouse on 14.7 acres will be renovated into a 1,500 seat auditorium to accommodate 5,000 attenders. First services are planned for late 2012.
As our Trans4mation capital campaign was ending, a group of 24 families offered a dollar-for-dollar matching gift opportunity up to $1M. The congregation answered with an astounding $1.8M that was then matched with the $1M from these families.
In June 2012 we launched a new web-based tool, TheCommon.org, to connect people with special abilities to people with matching needs.
In September 2012 each of our 5 campuses partnered with local schools through our new “Adopt-A-School” program, pouring in volunteer labor, resources and love.
Team Kensington ran its first marathon in October 2012 with 349 people raising $300,000 toward water initiatives in Kenya.
In December 2012 we opened and held Christmas services in our brand new Orion Campus building.
In January 2013 we launched "Embrace," a new foster care and adoption initiative designed to help thousands of Michigan children without families or permanent homes.
After 22 years of reckless abandon, we're still passionate about seekers and still crazy enough to stick our necks out. But most of all, we're still blown away by God's faithfulness... and dreaming about future possibilities.