After two years of planning and a year and a half of construction, the congregation at First Christian Church in Owensboro finally feels like they’re back home again.
Sadly, the original 150-year-old church building caught on fire following a lightning strike Monday, March 18, 2013, and the congregation watched in sorrow as their memories turned to ash.
But the church decided to rebuild on the same location, 700 JR Miller, and a planning committee was formed to oversee the details of the construction process, which began in March of 2015. Third Baptist Church and Journey Fellowship graciously hosted the First Christian congregation in the meantime.
But those days are over.
The congregation held a short service and tour last Sunday for members to see the new facility. The first full worship service in the new sanctuary will be held this Sunday.
“We expect it to be a really emotional day, but a joyful day,” Associate Minister, Rev. Cheryl Russell, told Owensboro Living this morning during an open house for the community. She says the choir has prepared a special selection for the occasion and a full crowd is expected. “We’re also baptizing nine young people on Sunday, so that’s exciting. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate moving forward in this new space than baptizing a bunch of young people into the Body of Christ.”
“We know the church really is the people and not the building, but there’s nothing like being in your own space and coming home.” – Rev. Cheryl Russell, Associate Minister
The new building pays homage to the long-standing tradition of First Christian in a brand new, modern space. Stained glass panels from the original church are prominently displayed, several salvaged windows have been incorporated throughout the new building, and the exposed wooden beams in the sanctuary and fellowship hall were designed to follow the same shape and look of the original beams. The second level houses the youth ministry area and Sunday school classrooms.
“This is the fruition of so many people’s hard work,” Russell said, “from the planning crew to Hartz Construction and EOA (architects), to the electricians, there are so many people involved in making this what it is – we couldn’t be more grateful.”
Looking forward, the church has also set up an endowment fund for outreach called the “legacy fund” that has given away around $25-30,000 to different projects benefiting the neighborhood. “This neighborhood endured a lot through the construction process, so we wanted to give back,” Russell said. “First Christian has always been rooted in outreach and service to the community, and the legacy fund is another way to serve the community.”