God Provides A Ministry Center on the Westside
The news is out! After twelve years since being inspired to pursue a ministry facility on the Westside, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Westside closed escrow on Friday, August 25, 2000 on the 17,000 square foot Bruno's restaurant and two adjacent parking lots centrally located to all Westside communities at the intersection of Centinela Avenue and Venice Boulevard. We had a dedication service on June 10, 2001 and our first Sunday service on June 17.
Over the years we have felt increasingly clear that we were to pursue a more permanent facility to glorify God on the Westside through worship and the arts, community outreach and compassion, and investing in the 'next generation.' It's finally happened!
As Pastor Brad explains, "After a few buildings pursued earlier this year led to a church survey and extensive discussions among the Church Council, I shared a sense I had with our Council and broker that the best location in terms of cost and impact would be along or near Centinela Avenue, around Venice or Washington Boulevards. Just days later I received a fax about this landmark property.
"What unfolded was the impossible being utterly opened up by God. He spoke to me in the most pointed way I have ever experienced about how to approach the offer and it involved such a way that only He could then provide. Keeping this decision to myself at this point, the next day Valinda from our staff shared a dream she had during the previous night in which she had been up pondering the building situation. The dream implied how the less sophisticated was going to be chosen, which reflected the very choice of trust the Lord had asked me to make. I then received a call that our offer had been chosen even against a higher one. This was only the beginning of experiencing God's favor in this process. (Neither space nor concerns for the appropriateness of certain details does justice to the weight of all that transpired. For a more detailed account you may request a tape of our presentation held on July 16th.)
"God made it clear to me that this property is only the beginning of a new beginning at hand. More than a home, this is a center of ministry.... of worship, mercy, and outreach. This isn't a time of settling in... but of breaking out. The future is before us and welcoming us to enter as we lay down all our past experience and expectations and open ourselves up in a fresh way to the power and purposes of God."
I. The Vision - Think center rather than just traditional church
The vision is to establish our presence in this location in a way that doesn't simply communicate "church" in a traditional way, but rather that there's more a center of various activity through which Christ lives through us… a coffee house, place of worship, theater, a youth center and a children's center.
We are building a great foundation on which to live out what Jesus is doing in worship, compassion, outreach, and building an 'alternative community.' Thus, we are establishing a center that is multi-faceted… that will maximize potential for many uses and many years.
II. The Plans - What we have done
Part of this vision is to provide a coffee house that truly serves as a public venue (not just to the Vineyard community or larger Christian community). We have equipped the coffee house area (front part of building which one first enters) for use as a commercial coffee house which is open to the public.
We've developed a great place for children as well. A lot of thought has gone into designing and developing a center that provides a creative environment for children of all ages to grow in the knowledge and love of God. This includes two larger rooms which can be subdivided to serve two age groups as well as be opened up to create a larger shared time of celebration together. Accompanying the rooms are sinks, toilets and a centrally located small resource room-office.
The adjoining building located on the north parking lot is a youth and arts center known as "The Shack." This old 1944 gas station has been renovated with a leveled floor, bathroom, small kitchenette, new insulation and interior walls, and finished in a more industrial look. The space is generally open allowing for large group gatherings of any kind as well as being set up as a studio for artwork or tutoring.
We have divided up the existing second floor office to provide offices for each of the current staff, a common reception area, small conference-project room, and a copying-equipment area that will be kept more accessible to all group and evening use.
The entire building is wired with an integrated phone, intercom, security and fire system. The current front doors on Centinela provide entry to the Coffee Connection and sanctuary. The side loading area/entry on Pacific is designed to serve as an entry for use of offices and potential daycare/preschool program. It has a gate with a code and intercom system to provide for security of use.
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