A need to be with the people led Calvary Chapel Sequim to come downtown.
After more than a decade on Boyce Road off US Highway 101 in Carlsborg, church leaders uprooted this fall and moved to the former Doodlebugs building at 132 1/2 W. Washington St.
Senior Pastor Hans Bailey said they loved their former space that sold in the summer, but they felt a calling to come closer to the community.
“In the gospel you see Jesus at times in the wilderness and people were coming to him, and at times he’s going into communities,” he said.
“I think there are times Jesus wants to be in a place where people are coming to him and times he goes into communities. I just believe that Jesus was saying, there’s coming a time I want you to be in town.”
The church’s new, old space features the former scrapbooking storefront and the upstairs historic dance hall.
David Isaac Rivers, the church’s associate pastor and worship director, said the hall has been widely used since the 1980s and maintains its “incredible acoustics.”
“Hearing everyone (sing) is amazing,” he said.
Bailey said discussions for a possible move started more than two years ago, but he’s been thinking about a change for several years in order to be “a part of the community rather than on the margins of the community.”
The Boyce Road building went on the market about a year ago, he said, and once they had an offer, church leaders agreed to make an offer of their own.
The final service was Oct. 27 in the old space, and the first was held in the new space Nov. 3.
Church leaders said there’s still a lot of work to do, but they can manage with its current condition.
“What Jesus does is remake us from the inside out,” Bailey said.
“We like to do that with the buildings. It’s a physical expression of what Jesus is already doing for us. He guts us and rebuilds us into something much more glorious.”
For the community
With a unique space featuring a storefront and dance hall, church leaders have some ideas for what could happen in the church but aren’t setting anything in stone.
“We want it to be something Sequim is excited about,” Bailey said.
“We want to rebuild this so that it’s an asset to the community. We have a lot of ideas, but we’re open to however the Lord is going to move it. We don’t have an agenda.”
One idea is to turn a space into a children’s ministry that also doubles a daycare and/or preschool during the week to help parents in a convenient location.
Another idea is to create an eatery of some kind.
Rivers sees the dance hall not only as a place of worship but as a performance arts space.
“I’d like to help music flourish here and make space available to the community,” he said. “It’s a huge part of our mission to be innovative in the arts.”
Bailey said he doesn’t like the idea of a church only being used a few times a week.
“We have these large buildings we’re heating and only using for two, maybe three times a week, when it’s this large asset,” he said.
In the few weeks since moving, church leaders said they’ve seen an immediate increase in their interaction by being downtown with business owners, community members and church-goers just dropping in.
Church leaders said they’ve transitioned to focus more on discipleship as a church in the last two years.
“We realized relationships in our church didn’t go deep enough to have an effect on each other,” Bailey said.
“We just didn’t interact the way that Jesus called the church to interact. We realize we’re just a collective of people who like the same worship music, and as long as I was entertaining, and we were all trying to be good Christians, that was what a church was.
But that’s not really what the Lord wants us of the church.”
To better follow Jesus, Bailey said they “only use programs that bring us into deeper relationships.”
He said, “All other churches have these. We had those programs, but what we realized, some programs allow you stay on a superficial level.”
Bailey said people will be more enriched when they hear each other’s understanding of Jesus’ teachings even if viewpoints clash.
“We worship a God who wants to intimately know us,” Rivers said. “Love your brother as yourself. We’ve been grappling in discipleship with honesty, and it’s changed our culture more, grappling with being more vulnerable.”
Rivers said their mentality is not to grow the church physically bigger but to “grow in Christ and generally know each other.”
“That’s why we’re here is to know Sequim, and I believe Jesus wants to know Sequim,” he said.
More about Calvary Chapel
• Calvary Chapel Sequim’s music features hymns and original songs in what Rivers describes as an alternative Celtic folk style.
• Church leaders are investigating the cost for installing an elevator to the second floor. For those unable to climb the stairs, comfortable couches with a video monitor are set up downstairs. Look for full services online too, at Facebook.com/CalvaryChapelSequim.