By Charly SHELTON
At the end of 2006, the Christian Life Church at the corner of Montrose and Ramsdell avenues burned down. The 15,000-square-foot sanctuary caught fire and was almost entirely reduced to cinders. Now, almost nine years later, the journey to recovery is almost complete. Construction on the new Christian Life Church is nearing completion, and Pastor Randy Foster couldn’t be more pleased. After years of planning and work, the new sanctuary is set to open in late August or early September.
“We’ve spent the last few years working with the city and going through the process of getting a design approved and then, of course, building permits and those kinds of things, securing a contractor,” said Foster.
The project began with a groundbreaking in November 2013 and really got going on June 1, 2014 with the start of construction. One year into construction and they are almost finished. Currently all of the underground work is done and all the walls are up, which were the biggest parts of the job. Foster said it is in the “finishing touches” stage of the interior.
“Electricians are topping out, getting ready to lay tile, measuring for carpet right now, everything is painted – we will have a lot of touch ups to do – but everything is basically painted,” said Foster.
He estimates that the outside of the building – sidewalks, parking lots, handicap ramps, stairs, retaining walls –will be finished in 60 days.
The funds for the majority of the work came from the fire insurance on the previous building, and the rest of the work was done through hundreds of volunteer hours. Volunteers did all of the drywall, the texturing, painting, tile work and more.
“We did a lot of the work ourselves,” said Foster, “and that is what’s making it possible for us to be able to get into this thing. Without the volunteer hours, especially [Bob Franck’s] time and skill, there’s no way we could accomplish this.”
Bob Franck has been one of the main volunteers on the project. He arrived in a motorhome last September, coming down from Idaho with his wife, Karen, to donate his services for a year to help finish the church. Franck learned of the CLC building project through the Mission America Placement Service (MAPS), part of the outreach ministry of the Assemblies of God network of churches. Bob and Karen have spent the last 15 years roaming the country with MAPS.
“They assist churches in their building programs. Men and women who are retired and have skills in different areas will travel through the United States and help churches build,” said Foster. “So Bob heard about our project through a presentation that I made at a MAPS convention and said, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of this.’ He has saved us tens of thousands of dollars.”
In addition to many other aspects of the new sanctuary, Franck etched the crosses on the windows around the church. The two etched crosses in the front tower are over seven feet tall and will be illuminated from the inside of the tower, presenting to the street all their glory.
Foster hopes that the new sanctuary will inspire growth in the congregation, which took a sharp decline after the fire. When he arrived five years ago as the new pastor of Christian Life Church, he was met by a small congregation.
“A lot of people were associated with the preschool [which was at the church before the fire], and when it went away, they went away. So when we came, there were a couple of dozen people here. But the church has been growing and we are getting calls constantly from [people who visited] our website and from people driving by, going, ‘Oh, wow, that’s going to be nice and we’re going to come.’”
The congregation will soon step into their new sanctuary which, although about half the size of the old church, will still hold the same number of guests – about 300. The sanctuary, Foster said, was designed to not only be functional for the congregation, but also to fit the community overall.
There will be an official dedication ceremony on a Sunday afternoon in late August or early September when guests will be welcomed for the first time.
For more information on Christian Life Church, visit clcag.net.