Preserving history and preparing for the future
Members of Calvary Chapel of Crook County are in the process of purchasing the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church building, an historic chapel with a 70-year Prineville history.
"It's such a large, lovely piece of history, and we don't need all of the space anymore, and when we found another church that would use it as a place of worship, then it just made sense to transfer it over," said Nancy Wiggins Condron, the senior warden and a lifelong member of St. Andrew's.
The approximately 30 members of the congregation are currently searching for a new location.
Calvary Chapel Lead Pastor Rory Rodgers calls the transition a total win.
"We've been busting at the seams for quite a few years and have been looking for different properties," he said, noting that his congregation has grown to nearly 300 members. "This building is over twice the square footage of what we currently have."
According to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church records, the Bishop's Committee purchased three lots at the corner of First and Holly streets on Dec. 23, 1945, selecting the name St. Andrew's. Rev. Dixon witnessed the building of the chapel in 1946, and the first services were held in the chapel on April 25, 1947. The fireplace room was added in 1950.
For many years, the congregation has practiced mutual ministry rather than having an appointed pastor.
"We have several pastors from within the community and outlying communities that serve the congregation," Wiggins Condron said.
Calvary Chapel of Crook County opened in 2002, meeting in various locations until 2008, when the congregation began renting at the current location, on the corner of Northeast Fourth and Northeast Belknap streets. Rodgers came on board nine years ago.
A couple years ago, members of the St. Andrew's congregation came to the realization that they no longer needed to use the entire building.
"As we were looking for a place, a man from our church was at the laundromat and struck up a conversation with a lady from the Episcopal church," Rodgers recounted. "We just were talking about how we were looking for a place, and they had space that they weren't using."
The two congregations began talking about Calvary Chapel renting half of the building, and they wrote up a proposal. But the folks from St. Andrew's realized the younger congregation would use the building much more than they would and asked if they'd be interested in purchasing it.
Both sides agreed and in January of 2017 began working toward a purchase agreement.
The transaction is in escrow, and if all goes as planned should close at by yearend. The two congregations will then hold a joint passing of keys service most likely in December.
"We think that it's a great thing that someone can continue to worship," Wiggins Condron said.
In the meantime, members are cleaning out the historic church in preparation for a moving sale, planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27.
The sale will include housewares, luncheon plates, candles, sterling silver, tables, couches, other furniture and art.
"There's so much history in this church – more than the faith piece of it," Wiggins Condron said. "It's a historical part of Prineville."
Rodgers says his congregation has simply outgrown their current location, especially their children's department, and are excited about their new church.
"There will be plenty of extra space for children's classrooms, play areas, rumpus-type space, a fellowship hall," he said, noting that their current building has only one large room and a small kitchen. St. Andrew's has two large fellowship halls, two large kitchens and a yard.
"This was created to be used for these purposes of worship and gathering and fellowship," Rodgers said. "It's a great purchase deal for us where we're pretty much just making a lateral move to larger square footage for about the same price."
He noted, however, that although they are looking forward to having a new church home, their focus isn't so much on the church building as it is the church people.
"We desire to have a place to gather that facilitates growth as Christians and to make followers of Christ," Rodgers said. "We're really excited to have this wonderful, beautiful facility, but our heart isn't going to be focused on a building as much as the people."