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Group renovates former St. Michael's Mission

Rochester Business Journal
December 27, 2013

An evangelical Christian group has invested more than $300,000 in renovating the former St. Michael's Mission in Livingston County, turning it into a Christian conference and retreat center.
 
The site in the town of Conesus, between Hemlock and Conesus lakes, was built in 1936 as a seminary for the Divine Word Fathers, a Catholic order. It is on 55 acres and has 155,000 square feet of interior space.
 
Still referred to as the Mission, the property now is owned by the Vision for the Nations Fellowship, an evangelical Christian church based in Colorado and led by a husband-and-wife team, pastors Kay and Julie Hiramine.
 
The church focuses on helping single mothers, widows and orphans. The Hiramines plan to use the site for its ministries while preserving the historic building.
 
They also want to engage the community, including the local business community, and build relationships.
 
"We want to be a blessing to the community," Kay Hiramine said. "We'd like to see a convergence between the private sector and the faith-based community."
 
So far, 30 of the 110 bedrooms have been fixed up. Plans include tours next year and using the property as a retreat and conference center. The church already plays host to small retreats and conferences. Its sister ministry, Generations of Virtue, holds an internship and gap semester program for young people from around the world in Conesus each year. In addition, youth camps, ministry retreats and a chapel are being considered for the property.
 
The land formerly owned by the original St. Michael's Mission now has several private residences on Mission Road, as well as an independent vineyard, Eagle Crest Vineyards LLC. Vision for the Nations Fellowship acquired its property when another church that had owned it dissolved in 2001.
 
The Hiramines met the pastors of the previous owner, Christ's Church, at a conference in Southern California in 1994. They built a relationship over the years, and the Hiramines' church was given the property for $1 as a result.
 
Among the renovations were the complete rehabilitation of the north wing, including plumbing, painting, carpet and a kitchen remodel, as well as painting projects, new roof sections and repair of water damage throughout the building.
 
The work was done with help from volunteers as well as with the aid of monetary donations, Kay Hiramine said.
 
Plans next year include renovating the building annex.
 
The group is hoping to fund and complete work for the chapel roof, finish the addition of new windows and install a new heating system.
 
Town Supervisor Brenda Donohue is pleased with the improvements she has seen at the site. Donohue lives nearby and has been watching some of the outdoor renovations.
 
She also likes the Christian focus and the Hiramines' goal to hold weddings at the chapel, noting that her family has had weddings there.
 
"It's a very beautiful property-a showpiece-that can help bring people to the area," Donohue said.
 
The Hiramines have five daughters and live in Colorado, but they visit the area regularly. They do not have many ties to this area but are friends with pastors of all denominations locally and with those at Elim Bible Institute in Lima.
 
They are also active in organizations outside of the Vision for the Nations Fellowship.
 
Kay Hiramine, for example, is a principal with the Colorado-based Humanitarian International Services Group, which specializes in private-sector resource mobilization and management. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles and previously worked in sales with Procter & Gamble Co. and as a leasing agent with Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.
 
In addition to founding Generations of Virtue, Julie Hiramine is an international speaker and author. She received dual bachelors' degrees in non-profit business management and sociology from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
 
The Hiramines believe the local property will be a draw.
 
"There is such a peace about the place," Julie Hiramine said. "When people come here, they really feel like they are getting away."

12/27/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.



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