(Photo: Joyce Frost)
A Washington State branch of a megachurch will be soon moving to a historic church building due to its growing numbers.
The Seattle Downtown branch of Mars Hill Church plans to relocate from a former Tabella nightclub to the historic building for First United Methodist Church of Seattle, which for the past five years has served as an entertainment hall.
Pastor Tim Gaydos of Mars Hill Church Downtown Seattle told The Christian Post about how the building, constructed in 1906, had for years been considered for demolition.
"This building faced an almost 25-year battle to see it preserved, and it faced a wrecking ball to be replaced by a large tower five years ago. A developer and preservationist came in, bought it, and turned it into a concert hall," said Gaydos.
"We developed a good relationship with him and started talking about what it would look like to repurpose it and return the space to its original intent as a church, what it was built for over 100 years ago."
According to the Seattle Times, the former home of First United Methodist Church of Seattle once served as the congregation of notable Seattle "founding families" when it was completed in 1906. However with time the congregation decreased in numbers and eventually First UMC ended up selling the building in 2007.
Dr. Sandy Brown, senior pastor of First UMC, told The Christian Post that the sale of the historic First UMC building was part of a growth strategy for the 500-member congregation.
"The 2007 sale of our historic property at Fifth and Marion was part of our long range strategic plan to replant ourselves in a more residential neighborhood of downtown Seattle," said Brown.
"We achieved that goal with our property purchase and building project at Second and Denny, where we have 10,000 condo and apartment-dwelling residents within a 1.5-mile radius of our building."
According to Brown, outside of "the memories created in that sacred space," First UMC has no current connections to the historic facility or Mars Hill, having "deconsecrated" the space on Easter Sunday 2008.
"In doing so, we relinquished our ties to the building and closed it as a place of worship. We are glad for Daniels Development that they were able to find tenants to occupy this beautiful building," said Brown.
"Our relocation has contributed to the renewed vitality of our historic congregation."
Mars Hill Church was founded in 1996 and is headed by Pastor Mark Driscoll. It has 14 locations in four states with an average weekly attendance of 14,000. According to Pastor Gaydos, the Downtown Seattle branch of Mars Hill has a 1,500 regular attendance divided into five worship services.
"Based on the incredible and miraculous growth rate that we've been on, if that continues, and we believe that Jesus is really doing a miraculous thing building his church in urban Seattle, then we would love to see God allow us to outgrow this space in the next five years," said Gaydos.
"At that point, we'd likely have to look at Key Arena!"