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The new facility will have athletic court and meeting spaces for the community to use

COURTESY PHOTO: GRACE CHAPEL/CASEY OVERCAMP - Grace Chapel in Wilsonville is opening a new facility that will have an auditorium and other meeting spaces for church services and community use.

A recent decision by Meridian Church of Christ not to sell its property to the Wilsonville government eliminated an opportunity for a new community meeting space in town.

However, another church, Grace Chapel, is nearing completion of a facility that could serve a similar purpose.

The non-denominational church will complete a new facility replete with an auditorium, classrooms, meeting spaces and a coffee shop at the former Pioneer Pacific Health College campus next to I-5 and Parkway Avenue in June, according to pastor Jake Schwein.

"Grace Chapel was started as a church that gives itself a way. This is one more step in that," Schwein said.

Having its own home has been a long time coming for Grace Chapel.

The church first operated out of an OrePac Building Products facility before moving to a space at DW Fritz and then holding services at Meridian Creek Middle School the last two years. Schwein said the church's congregation is about 1,400 and that capacity was often stretched, especially during occasions like Christmas or Easter. Currently, the church is holding in-person services with a capacity of 50 people and measures like social distancing are in place to safeguard congregants from spreading COVID-19.

Schwein said the new facility is about 35,000 square feet and that the church built the new auditorium to go alongside the existing facilities at the campus. He also said the auditorium will include technology like LED lighting and high-speed internet, allowing not only performing arts groups but also athletic teams to use the space. The auditorium's basketball and volleyball court was built with Oregon School Activities Association regulations in mind and Schwein added that club teams have already expressed interest in using the facility. Schwein also thinks community groups and businesses will frequent the space. The building has separated classrooms designed for different age groups and a space for the church's youth group.

"Our goal was to find a building that we could do a couple things with: have incredible facilities for youth and kids and have a facility that has a high school basketball court," Schwein said. "It's a multi-purpose room, state-of-the-art auditorium and athletic court facility. Our hope is that it's going to be used not just by us."

The church is also starting the nonprofit Grace Coffeehouse, through which it will sell coffee and other drinks. Schwein hopes that students at the nearby Oregon Institute of Technology campus, Wilsonville workers and others will stop by regularly for a pick-me-up.

Schwein said the church opening up its own facility has already sparked interest from the community and he hopes that it will bring even more awareness to Grace Chapel once it opens.

"Our hope and prayer is this is a beacon of light in the Wilsonville community and on I-5," Schwein said.

He added that construction is being financed via donations and a loan.

"People have been so generous and have given above and beyond," Schwein said.


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