January 28, 2012 in Washington Voices

Eastpoint adds 1,000-seat auditorium

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Pastor Kurt Bubna looks out over the new 1,000-seat auditorium taking shape at Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley Tuesday. The new addition is in the former Dollar Store adjacent to the commercial space the church already was using.
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Sunday worship services begin at 9 and 10:45 a.m. at Eastpoint Church, at 15303 E. Sprague Ave.

Sunday is being billed as the ninth anniversary grand reopening celebration at Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley, which will have worship services at 9 and 10:45 a.m. in a new 1,000-seat auditorium for the first time.

The church meets in a former Kmart store on Sprague Avenue just west of Sullivan Road. Last year construction started in the space next door vacated by the Dollar Store, making it the fourth remodel completed by the church since it moved into that location six years ago. The old, industrial looking lobby with concrete floors will be the site of a new thrift store and a new lobby is opening at the entrance of the new auditorium.

“It’s definitely what I would call raw,” said senior pastor Kurt Bubna of the old lobby. “We have not tried to hide that at all.”

The industrial feel is the first indication that this church isn’t traditional. There isn’t any stained glass to be found. Bubna usually wears jeans when he preaches. A band plays during worship services. The new auditorium has a control center and a professional-grade sound system. “Unless your grandma was into rock ’n’ roll, this is not your grandma’s church,” he said. “We’re very contemporary.”

Bubna said Eastpoint bills itself as a “safe place to discover grace.” The goal is not to attract people from other churches, he said. “What we’re really trying to do is reach people who don’t go to church,” he said. “That’s why we do what we do. We’re not for everybody and that’s OK.”

A lot of work has gone into making the church building what it is today.

“It was just a long, big box with lots of shelves and dead pigeons,” Bubna said. “We were able to build it the way we want. We have just loved it.”

Building it the way they wanted included putting up walls to create wide hallways and large, spacious rooms. “The philosophy is, you can do a small thing in a big room, but you can’t do a big thing in a small room,” he said.

With Sunday attendance usually topping 1,200, the church’s old 500-seat auditorium was no longer large enough, which prompted the $750,000 remodel. The church has no debt and collected donations to pay for the project as they went, Bubna said. “I think we’re $25,000 short right now,” he said.

Despite all the money spent on remodeling projects in leased space, Bubna said it makes good financial sense to do so. Research has shown that a building and parking lot of similar size could cost $8 million to build, he said. “The interest alone on that would be more than what we pay on our lease,” he said.

The church now has more space for storage as well as the dinner theaters and variety shows it hosts. The old auditorium can be used by community groups and the Future Business Leaders of America is already scheduled to use it this week for a regional conference.

The church will be able to spread its programs throughout 75,000 square feet of space, which is a far cry from where the church began. Eastpoint was planted nine years ago by Life Center Church and first met in a 10,000-square-foot space at Argonne Road and Mission Avenue. “My office was Starbuck’s and I’m not kidding,” Bubna said. “I didn’t have an office. There wasn’t enough room.”

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