A new church opened with Easter Sunday services in a prominent historic sanctuary on North Limestone Street with hopes of revitalizing a neighborhood plagued in recent years by crime.
The Turner Foundation bought the former Third Presbyterian Church building in 2005 and has invested $1.3 million dollars to restore the church as close as possible to its 19th century form. Fellowship Christian Church, 2301 Valley Loop Rd. in Springfield, has been helping with the renovations and Sunday opened the building as a satellite location.
“When the church removes its influence in a community, there’s that lack of presence, so I’m excited to open the doors and have that light again spill into the community and have a place where people know we are here, because we are fans of this community and we want to be a part of it,” said Fellowship Christian Church Pastor Jeremy Hudson.
The church is located in sector 107, which is the fourth-worst neighborhood in terms of crime and police calls, according to police records. Last August, Schuyler Mollet, 21 of Springfield, was shot in the church parking lot. Hudson said a main goal is to make the neighborhood a better, and safer, place to live.
Terricka Springer moved across from the church last year and has two small children.
“We have had a lot of issues since we lived here,” she said. “We thought moving from our old area here would be better, being over by Limestone.”
Springer is very happy the church across from her house will now have people at it regularly, and she believes it will make the neighborhood safer for her family.
“I love having that right across the street. I feel much safer. I feel much more content, you know having a church right there,” Springer said.
The Turner Foundation spent $380,000 on updating the leaking roof, restoring it to its original slate roof with copper nails. It also spent $38,000 to update the stained glass window that is in the dome of the sanctuary.
The next phase of the church’s renovation is a new entrance. Hudson said the current entrance, located on North Limestone Street, was functional back when most people would walk to the church. But today, most people drive nearly everywhere.
The Turner Foundation plans to make an entrance and welcome area on the north side of the building, which faces the parking lot to make the church more inviting.
Also in the next phase, the church plans to renovate the educational wings. Hudson said Fellowship Christian is considering opening up a small bistro in the basement of the building and installing a stage.
Hudson hopes the church will eventually become a place where community art and artists can display their works.
The church plans to hold weekly services every Sunday.