There’s a new sign outside the former Good Shepherd Lutheran Church: Genesis Church moved into the building on Sullivan Road this month.
Genesis Church, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America, formed in fall 2010 and had been meeting in a strip mall on East Sprague Avenue next to a U-Haul rental location. It was tucked back away from the street and hard to find. The new location is much more visible.
“That’s probably the greatest thing,” said the Rev. Brad Bruszer. “Visibility is great. We love that there’s actually grass. It was all pavement before.”
The building, at 810 S. Sullivan Road, across the street from Central Valley High School became vacant last year when the congregation voted to merge with Christ Lutheran Church and moved to the so-called “Broadway campus” – Christ’s building – to create Advent Lutheran. Genesis Church’s lease was up on its East Sprague location, and the lease payment for the former Good Shepherd building was about the same. It was just good timing, Bruszer said.
“It’s a better fit for us because it was designed to be a church,” he said.
But the building’s design also created some hesitation. Genesis Church is nontraditional, and the building on Sullivan definitely looked like a traditional church. So the church made a few changes before it moved in. The stained glass windows and pews were removed and some electronics were added in the sanctuary. It’s more about the feel than the look, Bruszer said. “Bring in some drums, some bongos, some projectors – it’s more than just decoration,” he said. “It really comes down to relationships and how the word is presented.”
The sanctuary seats the same number of people as the old location, but now there’s a lot more parking and a lot more space for groups and programs. The church will likely expand programs in the fall to take advantage of the space, Bruszer said.
Meanwhile he is focusing on the various projects that still need to be done around the church. “I carry my laptop in and my drill in the other hand,” he said. “I was putting up some molding today.”
While there hasn’t been a congregation in the building for a while, it was never really empty. A dozen community groups were using it as a regular meeting place, Bruszer said. Advent Lutheran said it was up to Genesis to determine how many could stay. Most of them are still there, but a couple groups were asked to move out because their regular meeting time conflicted with evening programs the church offers, Bruszer said.
“It was tough to ask some of those groups to go,” he said. “We’ve let as many stay as we could.”
Part of the lease agreement specifies that the preschool started by Good Shepherd is allowed to stay in business. Genesis has a two-year lease with renewal options.
“It’s a great move for us,” Bruszer said. “I’m really excited.”