GLADSTONE – There is irony in a church building under renovation and a King James reference to God’s people.
The Grove Church is remodeling a former International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) lodge for a place of worship. Several New Testament KJV passages call believers “peculiar people.”
To the world, Christians may seem ‘odd,’ but to believers of churches like the Grove, it’s about aligning with Jesus Christ, not the world.
The Grove is still in some ways a church plant, starting five years ago from two dozen from Pleasant Valley Baptist in Liberty, first at the Gladstone Community center, then more recently in the private Oakhill Day School. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were forced to do remote worshipping. Pre-COVID, Sunday attendance averaged 110-115 people. Now it is about 100.
In the meantime, a local businessman bought the IOOF building, which formerly housed a Veterans of Foreign Wars post. A church member talked to the new owner.
“He (the new owner) was agreeable for us moving in, gave us free rein in remodeling, and in November (2020) gave us a favorable, really good five-year lease with two five-year renewal options. So, we bumped up our budget and timeline,” said pastor Christian Williams.
The goal is for the church to be open by Easter.
As gathering restrictions loosened somewhat, the school would have welcomed The Grove back to use the gym and a common gathering, but not classrooms, due to extra cleaning needed.
“That would hurt our children’s programs. The school – and we are appreciative of all they did – would require us to mask-up for set up and tear down as well as for worship,” Williams said.
The school is 100 yards northwest of the Gladstone Community Center. The IOOF building is 100 yards northwest of the school.
“We’re right in the heart of Gladstone. This keeps us in the area. It’s kind of funny. In a pandemic, we’re moving to ‘Locust Street.’ Plus, we have the flexibility to have the classrooms,” he said.
In December, the church was talking with a theater owner, who initially agreed to the church renting space, but a week before the church was to meet there, the theater owner canceled the agreement in re-evaluating the COVID risks.
“We’re meeting again at Pleasant Valley, a 20-minute drive. It’s like moving back in with Mom and Dad, but you know it will be a short time, because your house is being built,” Williams said.
Renovations for 5,600-square-foot Grove building have been done by volunteers and friends, including some from Southern Missouri and Texas. The lower level will house office and classroom space and a kitchenette. The upper level is for the worship.
“It’s fun to see God provide and pull it all together,” Williams said.