Springfield, Mo. It's hard to miss the vacant industrial property on National Avenue just south of Chestnut Expressway. Once the site of an oil distributor, the land will soon be home to a church.
Calvary Chapel of Springfield, which has for years met at a location on Seminole St. and Lone Pine Avenue, purchased the former Saco Petroleum complex in July. Pastor Tom Humphrey says the congregation plans to renovate the buildings on the site and move into them by 2019.
Calvary Chapel isn't the only church to make plans for a downtown relocation in recent years. The move bucks the trend of recent years when many longtime churches in the center city have closed or relocated to other parts of the city.
Another congregation to put stakes downtown is The Well, which went into the College Station development a little more than one year ago. The church says it has more than doubled in attendance since opening.
Dylan Robinson, Co-Pastor, said," We have seen nothing but growth come from that and I think because we are downtown people are curious as to what the dynamics are here. We have a very young church but yet we are very well blended. We have multi generational churches here and a more upbeat modern church." He added, "The message has been the same and a lot of times that we go about it, those thing do evolve over time and so I think us coming downtown was a big thing."
Co-Pastor Selena Freeman said the church is starting several new ministries, including a recovery program, to serve the growing number of people coming to the services .
"Just the whole feel of downtown just, honestly, has a really awesome vibe and and people are really excited to be down here and I think it is just going to continue to grow," she stated. The downtown area is thriving and we are just thrilled to be a part of it."