A real home in Hobart for a new church

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Featured

Published on August 23, 2011 with No Comments

by Mike Siroky

The Hobart church with no permanent home that was given one celebrated a nine-month success story.

The East Campus of Sunset Christian Church has been renting Sunday space in a Hobart mall movie theater for its services. Another church, First Christian, had closed its doors at 625 Lake Street in Hobart.

It made sense for one church without a congregation any more to donate the building it called home to a church with a congregation but no home.

Suncrest is a St. John-based Christian church whose congregants spend much of their time helping others. They also have campus homes in Highland and Walkerton. They build ramps for the otherwise homebound. They’ve been known to do indoor renovations as well.

They are donating to plant self-sustaining new churches in Libya. On Saturday, they worked with “Tear Down The Walls” in Indianapolis, helping the homeless there.

The Libya mission is a worldwide effort.

The idea is to have every village gain a new church. The total startup cost is $7,050: $2,450 for a building which can be used by 200; $750 for the zinc roof (based on $150 per bundle cost); $2,400 for the one-year salary of the first pastor; $600 for a transportation fund at each site.

The United States is subsidizing rubber plantations in Libya. To help the locals escape from being subsidized, the churches want to invest in the workforce and economy: $70per bag of fertilizer (estimated need is 63 bags per site) and $100 per month to pay employees.

With all the talented volunteers who have done carpentry and wiring and other physical renovations, it seemed a natural the East Campus folks could undertake and complete the renovations at their new home. They did it in nine months.

And so the celebration began. To a standing-room-only crowd, which included family members from the other campuses, Suncrest Pastor Doug Gamble welcomed all with the usual zing of music, songs and sharing of The Word.

Of course, this being a summertime party, they officially christened the renovated meeting room downstairs with a barbecue feast. Parishioners supplied the delicious desserts, cold drinks and salads and the congregation had plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers for the outside grills.

Pastor Gamble makes it clear: This is no members-only place. “Everyone is welcome; you don’t have be a church family member,” he said. Former parishioners of the neighborhood First Christian makes up some of the new members, happy their church is still a house of Christian worship.

“We thank all those who gave their sweat to this,” said Pastor Gamble.

“This is a new environment we can make so God can speak and be heard.”

And interesting sidelight to the party was the disbanding of one of the Ministry Teams. Those guys had been assigned – and showed up every Sunday – to remake the mall movie theater with appropriate worship items. They broke it down every Sunday as well, putting it all back into the trailer fore the next service.

Now, the next service is already ready. It was a nice tribute to have that Ministry Team complete its mission completely.

Hometown businesses stepped up. Von Tobel Lumberyard donated paint. Another company donated lights.

Mostly what was needed — and gained – were all the hours of volunteer work. The building was stripped down to the studs and exposed wiring. Bathrooms – on each floor — were outfitted and otherwise renovated. Downstairs offices give Pastor Gamble a place to counsel and reflect.

Paint was applied to new walls. Rewiring was done. Cleaning and more cleaning makes it sparkle and shine.

A welcoming entry is ready as a coffee house, complete with appropriate chairs with a steaming cup logo.

By the way, those were expected after the grand opening. They arrived at least a week early. Someone was working mysterious way, the wonders to perform

Even as the inaugural service thundered in the main worship area, the Student Life Connect – (SLC) was meeting. The group for middle and high school students is an integral part of the Suncrest brand and of this campus in particular as it plans an outreach and safe haven for all are children.

There were already wee ones at the opening service. The “crying room” had several active toddlers going full-speed, well-supervised by church volunteers.

With too many folks to thank, everyone acknowledges Charlie Talley was the man in this project. He designed the renovations, explained the work to the willing hearts of the volunteers and did much of the wok himself.

It is not all done – the chairlift from street level to the main worship area is almost installed – but the majority is complete. The downstairs meeting area, while being magnificently restored, made sure to keep the inlaid tiles of a shuffleboard tiles.

In conjunction with that timeless game is an air hockey game still in the repair stage and a Nintendo gaming system. The full-service kitchen was put to good use for the welcoming party and will be used many more times.

Perhaps the best summary of this Hobart project was made by 12-year-old parishioner Adrian Fortner. He assessed his new home church this way: “Awesome!”

The Suncrest website: www.suncrest.org. For more information, call 888-850-4519. E-mail doug.gamble@suncrest.org.

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About Mike Siroky


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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