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Hobbs church re-opens following lengthy renovation

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Hobbs church re-opens following lengthy renovation

Have you ever had your dreams come true?

For Haley Kinney,  last weekend’s official opening of the new-look Christian Center Church was the conclusion of a three-year labor of love that saw church leaders recognize some needs and then creating a new structure, while keeping in place a lot of the tradition of the 46-year old church.

Haley’s mother, Jan, has a photo from 1972 that features a group of men with shovels as they broke ground on the church sanctuary for Charismatic Christian Center. It’s that photo that Haley looks at with nostalgia, because one of those men holding a shovel was Charles “Doc” Smith, her grandfather, who served as a board member when the church was created.

“My Papa had a vision for this church,” Haley said, “and the people around him supported him. More than 40 year later, my husband and I had a vision for this church, and we received that same kind of support.”

Haley, and her husband, Jotty, are the religious leaders of Christian Center, 4024 W. College Lane, which spent the past 15 months undergoing a $3 million transformation that united the church’s two main buildings. For several years the church consisted of a sanctuary, a youth building — that was formerly the church’s gym and before that was the church’s original sanctuary — and a smaller fellowship hall.

More than a year after the project started, the church had its official grand re-opening Sunday with several former church members and pastors participating. While the church sports some new amenities such as a coffee bar, back patio area and playground, it also addressed a few issues that led to the expansion.

“We had some really huge needs that had to be addressed,” Jotty said. “Our nursery was way too small and we were always expanding with young couples, families with young children and our nursery was inadequate. So we really tried to find space where we could grow and it had to be pretty close to our sanctuary. So that was the first rung in the ladder.”

The second need was for a designated children’s area. Jotty said the church’s children’s groups were sharing the same space with the youth group.

There were thoughts of adding new rooms to the back of the current sanctuary, but when church leaders brought the idea to their consultants and architects, they were told, why put something new behind something that is old and dated? “That’s when the idea of tearing off the front of everything and combining the buildings into one facility came around,” said Jotty, which addressed a third need, or more of a wish, a larger lobby area.

“So when we looked at these needs, we realized it was time for a completed renovation project,” Jotty said.

The idea of combining the sanctuary and the youth building also eliminated the issue of parents leaving church, walking next door in whatever elements were present outside to pick up their children, who received worship next door.

“If it was snowing, raining or windy, it was horrible for you or your kids to go next door,” Haley said. “So being able to combine everything was great. You come to church and you can stay in the building the whole time.”

Currently the sanctuary and the former youth building are combined by a long foyer area complete with a information center and coffee bar. Much of the youth building has been transformed into a complex of classrooms and worship areas for all youth ages, as well as a larger, more accommodating nursery. The back patio area serves as a second entrance, complete with a fire pit. This allows for those church members who wish to park on the north side of the church.

“We really looked at what kind of expansion can we do without losing too much of our parking area in the front,” Jotty said. “We had to design something that was close to the front, but yet peel off the front area and combine the middle building.”

The idea was met with an overwhelming approval from the congregation. A campaign fund was started while architects worked out a design. Hobbs-based LASCO construction was chosen to build the renovation which started in November 2016. It also forced church members to move their services to nearby University of the Southwest.

“USW was so amazing to allow us to use their theater,” Jotty said. “I approached (USW President Quint Thurman) about wanting to come to his office and talk to him about using their facility because we were going to be displaced. He said, ‘you don’t have to come to my office, you got it.’”

During the renovation LASCO owner John Ragsdale said he felt like he and his crew became a part of the church.

“They treated us like we were part of their family,” John said. “That doesn’t happen very often when we are working a project. We really had a blast.”

John said this was the most fun he had with a project since building First American Bank.

“You don’t get the opportunity to do buildings with a lot of detail,” he said. “A church, new or an edition, has a lot of details and that makes it more fun.”

More appreciative was the fact that the church used a local construction company with local subcontractors.

“I’m really big on using locally,” John said. “We try to buy as much material locally, not just benefiting LASCO, but benefiting local companies. The people who were paid for this project are from here. They buy their meals or cars and stuff here. If you spend money locally, it will come back to you.”

Haley spent almost two years of her researching and planning on the interior decoration. Much of the furniture and decorations were either donated, purchased at discount stores or repurposed. Older church members will be pleased to see some items, like one of the three crosses that hung in the sanctuary, repurposed and placed in the foyer area.

“I made it a point to repurpose a lot of the items that we had from the old buildings,” she said. “I feel it is important to have a nostalgic look, to honor those past members. I have seen this church go from being my Papa’s church, to my parent’s church to my church. It’s such an incredible feeling.”

Still on the wish list is a new fellowship hall and gymnasium, but it’s several years down the road. Through their own giving, church members are paying for the renovation themselves. And now they are going to enjoy what they have planned, built and created.

“Our church was not renovated,” Jotty said. “Our church building was. Our church is our members and supporters. They are the ones who were with us when we brought this idea to them three years ago. They were with us when when we moved to USW and worshipped there. They were there when we painted and created its interior look. And they’ll be here on Sunday when we open the door, officially.”

What started as a vision more than 45 years ago and has seen a variety of change, has again become the dream realized today.

Burkett Shaw
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