The Grace Community Church is celebrating its new building in Lee’s Summit.
The congregation, which moved from Kansas City earlier this year, is holding an open house at noon to 4 p.m., Oct. 26 at the renovated church, 101 SW Market St.
The congregation bought the rundown church building and remodeled it, hiring some work to be done, with members completing other jobs themselves.
The building had had been vacant a couple of years and was in pretty sorry shape, said Pastor David Franklin.
The church was meeting in Lee’s Summit since March, using the Lee’s Summit Fire Fighters Association hall, until late summer when it was able to move into the partly renovated building.
The congregation used chairs, did without a sound system, until all the work wrapped up and pews were installed.
The church interior was rebuilt in Craftsman style, “I think the neighborhood will be pleased with what we’ve done,” Franklin said.
Franklin said the fixer-upper was in the small congregations’ price range and it was glad to restore the 1938 building to its original use as a house of worship.
Charlie Long, a longtime Lee’s Summit resident, said he attended the church when he was a boy, when it was an Assembly of God congregation, and now he’s started attending there at Grace Community Church.
“It brought back a lot of memories, I raised my kids in this building,” Long said. “It has never looked this nice before. I really appreciate what a fine group of people they are.”
Long said two women started the congregation that originally owned the building in what had been a chicken hatchery on Second Street, and that group rented several buildings before it started its own at First and Market streets.
Long, 81, said he recalls as a 7-year-old boy seeing the basement at First and Market being dug with a 30-inch wide shovel pulled by a team of horses.
Then the church met the first couple of years in the basement, he said.
A copy of a church bulletin Long gave to Franklin said the basement was dug in 1938 congregation met there until erecting the superstructure in 1946, Franklin said.
Franklin said Grace Community Church is independent, non-denominational church, based on Bible teachings. It’s roots are in the “Shouting Methodists” and Pentecostal traditions.
Franklin said the congregation decided it needed a new meeting place because at the former location crime was increasing and efforts at evangelism weren’t working.
“We weren’t reaching the neighborhood,” Franklin said.
Members had dispersed until only one person actually lived near the church on Rinker Road. Franklin said God started speaking to his heart that the congregation needed to move on.
He said he and his church take a low-key approach to evangelism.
“It’s my job to tell them the truth as I see it,” David Franklin said. “It’s my job not to hit them over the head with a hammer.”
The congregation, from babies to 80s, is friendly and small enough to be tightly knit, but it’s not insular, Franklin said.
For more information about Grace Community Church go to: www.gcclsmo.org.