By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — When the Lindberg Road Church moved to a new location because of bankruptcy, the congregation needed a new name.
"Journey Church," they decided, would be appropriate.
"It's very symbolic," Minister Ryan Smith explained. "It reminds people that the Christian life is a never-ending journey."
The first service in the newly minted church will occur Sunday when the congregation opens the doors to the renovated former Meadowbrook Elementary School.
Getting to this point has been a long process for the church. It began after Lindberg Church obtained a $2.5 million loan from STAR Financial Bank and took out life insurance policies on its members to pay off the debt. But congregation members didn't pass away, and the church lost its building and went through bankruptcy in 2013.
While church officials were still dealing with the bankruptcy, they began searching for another building.
Elder Dean Malsom said several people advised them to contact the school system, since it has unused buildings. They were drawn to the old Meadowbrook Elementary School building, which had sat dormant for the past eight years.
"It seemed like the one that could best suit our needs," Malsom said. "We decided to take a leap of faith."
Malsom said some contractors anticipated serious structural problems with the building; other contractors weren't so sure. Despite the concerns, the church purchased the building from the school corporation. The sale was approved by the Anderson Community Schools board of trustees in July, and the congregation went to work on the project in September.
Smith said church officials were pleasantly surprised by what they found when they started working on the building. For example, Smith said, the boiler, after eight years of inactivity, started up with only minor adjustments.
Church members have volunteered time the past four months to prepare the building for its first service. Tile had to be ripped up and carpet put down. Leaks in the roof had to be fixed. The parking lot had to be cleared of weeds. And almost all of the walls needed new paint.
The school's old gym will be the church's all-purpose room and will host worship services.
"Two of these walls were just covered in a mural from floor to ceiling," Smith said. "It was dinosaurs and robots and books, so we had to paint over it."
In addition to being a place of worship, Smith said, Journey Church will host community events and educational endeavors.
The neighborhood has welcomed Journey Church, as well. Malsom's wife, Sandy, said 600 children attended a Trunk or Treat Halloween event there.
"We were very overwhelmed by that," she said. "I'm just glad we didn't run out of candy."
Smith hopes the church's determination to find and prepare a building serves as a source of inspiration.
"I think our struggles have shown God is faithful even in the messy times," he explained. "We want to be a story of restoration. We want to show how to persevere through the tough times."
While Journey Church's adopted facility still needs more work, Smith is excited to have a service in the new building.
"It's going to be a very celebratory service," he said. "We've come a long way, and we're ready to worship in this building."
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.
First service What: Journey Church's first service Where: 550 W. 37th St., Anderson When: 10 a.m. Sunday