Today will mark a new chapter in the history of our church. Today we sign the papers to take ownership of a new property in Newport, RI! Some of you might be thinking, "Big deal, Steve." Allow me to enlighten you a bit.
New Beginnings Praise & Worship Center started as a brand new church in September 1999. The first service was held in a local community center and the only people in attendance LITERALLY was the pastor, his wife, his 4 year old son and a blind man. (I didn't come until June '02) During that time we endured tattered chairs, the phone to community center ringing DURING the service, fake ghosts the local kids made hanging from the ceiling, toys stacked in the back of the room, power outages and MUCH more. Children's church was held in a food pantry and youth minsitry was at the pastor's house in the family room. Oh yeah, the equipment for the church (some we used and some was a purchase for our future facitlity. A facility we didn't have or even know when we were going to have) was ALSO in the pastor's family room.
After being there for FOUR YEARS we moved into and renovated an old synagogue that was being used as a coat making shop. Literal blood, sweat and tears went into renovating that building. And some how, with only 5 parking spots in a building tucked away on a street that was only one block long behind a junior high school and a large Catholic church bordered by 2 one way streets - we grew to a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural church of about 150 people. That's right FIVE parking spots on a hidden street that's only one block long bordered by 2 one way streets!
Having outgrown the current building and no realistic way to go to multiple services without creating a SERIOUS traffic problem, we searched for a new building. And after much prayer and a one year long process, today we sign the papers on a building that has been a fixture in our community for over 120 years. It's an old Episcopal church that gives us the opportunity to marry the traditional and modern elements of a church in one building. It's on the main road, its about 4 times bigger than our current space and has PLENTY of parking! And FINALLY, the youth get a dedicated space. Oh yeah, NO MORE RENTING! We are purchasing the building. From the proverbial "mudhuts" to the "promised land."
So that's the "big deal" just in case you didn't know. We sign today. Rejoice with us! For New Beginnings - history is being made!