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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘New-Thought’ Church Opens Doors At Mission And Pines

Sam Francis Staff writer

The new neighbor at the busy intersection of Mission and Pines isn’t a new gas mart or a glitzy shopping mall.

Instead, it’s a house for the soul - the Spokane Spiritual Center.

The “new-thought Christianity” church is the latest tenant at the highly visible Mission and Pines intersection.

The center moved into the previous home of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Valley Bible Church at 12323 E. Mission in late June.

“We were looking for our own turnkey place since last November,” said Austin Hennessey, 57, who co-ministers the church with his wife, Mary.

The church building and land are worth $700,000, according to documents at the county assessor’s office. Hennessey wouldn’t specify what the Spokane Spiritual Center pays in rent.

The church’s new location is one of the busiest corners in the Valley, with more than 24,000 cars passing each day, said Pat Martin, Spokane County traffic analyst.

The traffic has paid off. Each day the Hennesseys greet a slew of visitors who see the signs and wander in, looking for information.

“Excuse me?” A young woman asks, knocking on the door. She’s wearing a bright red dress and matching shoes.

“I just saw those signs out there and was wondering what this place is all about.”

Hennessey stands up, welcoming her into his cramped office. “See what I mean?” he says, handing her a brochure.

About 50 people flock to the new center each month, and a second service is planned for October.

The Irish-born husband-and-wife ministers left the South Hill’s Unity Church of Truth last year after an “ideological fallout,” said a member of that church.

A big chunk of the congregation followed them to the South Hill Senior Center, where about 150 people had been meeting since last November.

That space was too small, so the Hennesseys began an exhaustive search for a new location.

They considered barns, old schools, the University City Shopping Center and even an office space on Riverside Avenue before settling on the brick church building at the corner of Mission and Pines.

Hennessey said they signed a one-year lease, with an option to renew.

The building can hold about 300 people during each worship service. Sunday services currently attract 150 people and are marked by contemporary music and inclusive messages.

A lot of remodeling had to be done to the building.

New signs were made, 300 new chairs ordered, carpet was cleaned and a 100-square foot bookstore was built in the main foyer.

More remodeling will be done as the congregation grows, Hennessey said.

“This is a steppingstone to let people know we’re here,” said Hennessey, who hints at a permanent location on an unspecified 10-acre parcel in the Valley.

The Spokane Spiritual Center is a non-denominational church, with “new-thought” theology.

The belief system is a blend of elements from Christianity, Eastern spirituality, meditation and the Science of the Mind.

Instead of singing traditional hymns, Hennessey prefers “contemporary inspirational” music. To provide balance, he hires classically trained solists.

For more information, call 891-0745.

, DataTimes

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