Our Journey Together - Part I

As written by Audrey Mercier.

Seasons can change. Circumstances may shift. And life has a tendency to be flexible. For the past 8 months, our congregation has had the privilege of growing in number and in faith at 1000 S. Morrison - previously an old Schwegmann’s grocery store. When we were given the keys and permission to rent the building by Ed Hoover, we walked into an opportunity, a change.

For those that weren’t apart of the physical restoration, let me enlighten you by saying it had been vacant for almost 14 years before we got there. It was smelly, dirty, and I’m pretty sure the roaches weren’t very happy to see us, because they knew we were going to make it shiny and new. After quite a few work days and late nights by many hands, we restored and gave it new life. We received so much favor in the supplies and workers, and Mr. Ed was more than understanding and approving of the renovations we made.

Those keys Ed Hoover gave us weren’t permanently ours though. Yet the restoration wasn’t in vain either. Ed Hoover continued to show the building to those interested in leasing it, and we had service as normal up until August 24. It was then that we received a call that the building had been leased to a retailer that would occupy the building in hopes of being open by the end of November.

I remember sitting in the office that day when Pastor Marvin told the office staff the news. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t excited, but I also wasn’t afraid. As a detail-oriented person, my mind was instantly processing the finite things that would have to occur and be taken care of. A day later, after I had some more time to think about it, I was much more confident in how this transition would take place. As the change was communicated to the rest of the lead team, there was this overwhelming peace that followed their reaction. There might have been a small amount of shock in knowing that the tight timeframe of moving out in two weeks was daunting. However, some key people really stepped up to the plate, and it was noticeable that God’s grace was not only holding us together during this change, but was also binding us together even more so.

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At the end of those two weeks, we found the building empty of all our belongings and equipment, the walls torn down, the stage emptied and deconstructed. There was a bittersweet moment that occurred. My husband, Ryan, had been in the building for all of the renovation and had a revelation there as he observed his surroundings. He saw that all these ‘things’ are temporal and they can fall away, but the cross, it stood.

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That symbolism was an encouragement to know that success of our first Sunday back at 2100 Anita Blvd wouldn’t be contingent on a building, but as always, it would be driven by the presence of God that is with us, building or no building. Ever since we stepped into the doors at 1000 S. Morrison, Pastor Marvin reminded the congregation over and over again that this was a temporary place. No need to find a chair and call it your own. Every bit of equipment we acquired and all the renovations we made were just resources and tools. God’s favorite resource to use is people, though. Nothing can replace living, breathing, willing people that want nothing more than to bring glory to God and spread His love to others.

We appreciate and thank Ed Hoover for providing us with this amazing opportunity to rent the building - for so little cost at that. As the future occupant continues to restore the building, we are excited to see them succeed as they create jobs for others and revenue for the city of Hammond. With our eyes set on the eternal, not just the external things in life, it is with great honor we take the next step in our journey together as we see where God takes us.