By Kevin Kelley
For five years, the congregation at New Hope Church has been on a journey toward a new, larger location to call home. On Sunday, that journey ends with a dedication ceremony and community reception at its new address on Lorain Road.
Members began their search in earnest in 2009, according to Pastor Dan Sewell. A big reason for the move from their former location on West 220th Street was the need for more space for the church’s outreach programs, Sewell said.
Although New Hope had not yet found a new location, the church sold its 1.41-acre property on West 220th Street to the Fairview Park City Schools in 2011. The deal allowed the church to continue using its property until May of this year. An agreement earlier this year to sell the church’s parsonage property to the school district lengthened the period the church could remain at the location.
But the church had trouble finding a new home. Properties the church became interested in were purchased by other parties. When that happened with the former Arhaus furniture store building, Sewell decided divine intervention was needed. He called upon church members to begin a 40-day period of prayer and fasting. By the end of the 40 days, the pending deal for the Arhaus property fell through and New Hope was able to purchase the property.
“Just being here is a miracle,” Sewell said of the move.
Church members will formally hold their first worship services there this Sunday at 9:30 and 11:05 a.m. At 6 p.m., New Hope will hold a dedication service for its new location, an event to which the public is invited, Sewell said. Mayor Eileen Patton and leaders from other area churches will be in attendance, he added. The ceremony will be followed by a reception.
“We want it to be a community event,” Sewell told West Life.
The front of New Hope’s Lorain Road building is home to a community area that members are calling the Street View Cafe. The multipurpose area, which includes a small kitchen, will host meals and other gatherings, Sewell said. The area includes a skylight kept from the building’s days as a furniture store.
Sewell said the church recycled a considerable amount of cedar and white oak wood during its redesign of the building. While the church hired contractors to redevelop the building, much of the actual work was done by church volunteers, including a 92-year-old woman, Sewell said. The pastor himself, who once ran his own home improvement company to supplement his income during his early years in the ministry, served as the project’s general contractor.
The new, larger sanctuary features video projectors that will be used to show church announcements and other information. In addition to the Bible, musical instruments, including an electric piano, drums and a guitar, are featured prominently on the sanctuary’s platform.
At the north end of the building are six classrooms for Sunday school and group meetings, as well as church offices. Still to be completed is the lower level, which will feature a second community space with complete kitchen facilities.
Once New Hope took ownership of the Lorain Road building, the first thing they did was make space available rent-free for the Fairview Park Hunger Center, which provides food for needy city residents. The charity now operates out of space at the north end of the building.
New Hope’s 140 members held their last worship services at their old West 220th Street building Sept. 22. But no special commemorations were held to mark their departure from their old sanctuary.
“We decided the best way to close out there was to keep our focus on the next steps,” Sewell told West Life.
Some might find the pastor’s attitude surprising, especially because Sewell first worshiped there as a boy in 1962 when it was called the Parkview Community Reformed Church.
But Sewell, who has been New Hope’s pastor since 1989, said the chapel at the West property was intended only as a temporary worship site. Costs and other factors prevented the congregation from expanding at that location, Sewell explained. The result, he said, was that the West 220th Street location was too limiting.
“I’m glad of the time there, but I won’t miss it,” he said.
The new location, with larger restrooms and an elevator, are safe and accessible for older adults and persons with disabilities, Sewell said.
“We have a lot of room to grow for all ages,” he said. “It’s the right environment for our attitude of welcoming and openness. It fits us.”