The Quick Story
Midway through 2015, the leadership of First Christian Church, which had their last worship service on November 1st after over 100 years in Beaver Falls, reached out to The SOMA Gathering to discuss the possibility of us acquiring their building. This conversation became an offer to gift us the building, with the hope that it will continue to be a ministry presence in the community for years to come. As a leadership team and as a worshiping body, we spent the rest of the year in prayer, in conversation, and figuring out the details of what a move like this would mean for us. What an amazing experience that was, and the input from the entire worshiping community was overwhelmingly in the same direction. At our December meeting, SOMA’s leadership team voted to accept this gift. Here are some details of what we anticipate this means:
First, that we’ll transition the two years of planning & emerging work of the Community Center (which had been focused on 1611 7th Ave) into this space. We’ll understand this new building first and foremost as a community mission center.
Second, that we also use this space for our Sunday morning worship gatherings & other SOMA activities.
In order to use this building as part of the work of heralding God’s Kingdom in Beaver Falls, we envision:
A GATHERING SPACE/’THIRD PLACE’ because we desire to be in relationship with our city – encouraging relationships, making space for conversation & breaking down barriers.
At opening: An open hours drop-in center during the week (coffee, wi-fi, etc.)
AN EXPRESSION SPACE because we desire to listen to God through our neighbors.
At opening: Open Mic Nights
Future possibilities: Dance classes, art gallery
A DEVELOPMENT SPACE because we believe God’s flourishing means people realizing their gifts & capacities.
At opening: Jobs for Life
Future possibilites: Adult education, life skills classes
A COMMUNITY RESOURCE HUB because we believe God has provided, right here in our city, so much of what the community needs.
At opening: Table with information on events, community services, etc.
A COMMUNITY WORSHIP SPACE because we desire to integrate our worship of God with our work in the neighborhood.
A LAB FOR OTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
At opening: Funeral home meals (lower level), winter warming center
Future possibilties: Day care (lower level), co-work space, event rentals
When will this happen?
The legal property transfer, preparation of the space, and moving details should take a few months. We’re hoping to have our first Sunday morning worship gathering in this space @ 11:15am on April 17th, and have the building open as the community space that week.
What about 1611 7th Ave?
This was, by far, the most challenging part of our decision. Volunteers have spent many, many hours over the past two years preparing this main street space to be the Community Center, and we are so mindful of and grateful for that. Our leadership team felt strongly that we should accept the gift of the building at 1401 6th Ave, which made the difficult question this: do we accept this building and keep the main street space as well, or transition the work of the Community Center to the new building and return the use of 1611 to Tiger Pause Ministry. After carefully weighing the benefits and drawbacks of both options, we came to our final decision based on a couple big ideas:
THE STEWARDING OF RESOURCES – Managing the ministry work and upkeep of two buildings would stretch us very thin, both in people’s energy and in finances. While it would have been possible, the concern was these resources spread between the two spaces would make us less effective in both.
MAINTAINING AN INTEGRATED MISSIONAL IDENTITY AS A CHURCH BODY – Rather than have one building where we ‘worship’ and another building where we ‘do mission’, having one established space in the city where we experience both will help us stay on track as a church that strives to meaningfully herald God’s Kingdom in the city.
So what happens now to 1611 7th Ave? That building has always belonged to Tiger Pause Ministry; they were leasing it to us for $1/year. Now that the building is nearly completely renovated, we are simply offering that work to them as a resource for their ministry in the city. We don’t yet know the details of what Tiger Pause will do there, but we can trust that it will serve the youth of the community, and a newly-renovated building on the main street of Beaver Falls is always a good thing for the city as a whole!
What will the building be called?
Great question – we don’t know yet! We want the identity of the space to be known primarily as a community space. We’re hoping to make the naming a team effort, and here’s how we see that working:
During January & February, we’ll be taking name suggestions from SOMA folks & other neighbors in Beaver Falls.
In February, our Leadership Team will narrow the suggestions down to a few. As a worshiping body, we’ll ‘vote’ for the best name in March.
How can I be involved?
This is the best question! There are lots of ways for you to be part of this effort, both before the move and, most importantly, after:
BETWEEN NOW AND OPENING:
- Help us name the building
- We’ll have volunteer days to get the building ready, including clearing the space out, painting, moving in, and more. Keep your eyes open for more details to come, and plan to help out if you can!
- Stay updated with what’s going on by checking out the blog at www.thesomagathering.org.
WHEN WE’RE UP AND RUNNING:
- Volunteering for the open hours drop-in center
- Volunteering to help run our monthly Open Mic/Music nights
- Volunteering to help with Jobs for Life
You can contact Marc at 724.774.6398, ext 104, Dave Slebodnik (Center Coordinator) at 724.875.7286, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get more information about this move, help name the building, get involved in the work of preparing the space for our April 17th opening, or volunteer for the community space work once we’re up and running.