PORTSMOUTH—Many commuters through Portsmouth this week may have been dismayed to see a pile of stones where the original building of the Central Church of Christ once stood. But Thayer Wallace, senior minister at the Central Church of Christ, wants the community to know that even though the original building no longer exists, the church’s mission remains stronger than ever.
Passing by the rubble as demolition crews scramble to carefully preserve the original blocks of the church‘s foundation, Wallace tells me he hopes to compassionately preserve what the building itself meant to the community.
“We’re trying to move forward, but also honor the past a bit,” Wallace explained. “There has been a lot of pessimism about the fact that we are demolishing the old building. I think in people’s minds the church building was the same as it was 30 or 40 years ago, but unfortunately the church buildings are getting old,” he added with a little sheepish laugh.
Wallace and his congregation met for most of their ministry in the church’s “new building,” which sits right next to where the demolition of the “old building” took place. The services were therefore not interrupted.
Originally, Wallace intended to repair parts of the old building to add space for the children’s classrooms. It became clear very quickly during this process that the building was not salvageable.
“It had to happen. We were definitely getting to the point where it was actively becoming a liability for us to have this building. Things were constantly falling from the ceiling – the building was collapsing,” he explained.
Wallace, who became the church’s senior minister two years ago, says that since he led the church, most of their sermons and classrooms have been held in the current building. He honors that the old building held great significance to many worshipers and residents of Portsmouth, but knows that a church extends beyond these walls.
“It’s always been part of the plan, we’re going to move forward. This building was not our future, which many people have a hard time hearing. Trying to move forward with compassion is one of the things I tried to be for two years. I was brought in to really move the church forward,” Wallace explained.
Wallace said the common goal of the Central Church of Christ congregation is to be a church that truly serves its community. He and the congregation, through community partnerships, offer sports camps, outreach and even a sock and shoe ministry for children and adults in need – a program that now needs a new one. house with the demolition of the old building.
“We adopted ‘For 5662’ [pronounced “45662,” as in Portsmouth’s zip code] as our mantra that we are going to be for this area. It’s our desire, and the truth is that Portsmouth don’t just need another building to stare at. He needs churches and communities of followers of Jesus who will invest in and care for their communities.
“It’s great that people like to walk past and look at our building, but that’s not what we’re here for,” Wallace explained. “We cannot be satisfied with this. We’re not just going to keep a museum on our site.
The interior of the current church building is adorned with canvas prints of the “old building” over the years. And while Wallace and his congregation are dedicated to growing with the needs of their community, they are always invested in preserving the history and core values of the Central Church of Christ.
And if anyone who walked past the demolition was sad to see it go, Wallace invites them to join the congregation for a service so they can see all they’ve done and all that’s yet to come. .
“Our purpose is to be here for our community and to bring Jesus into the community, not just for the community to come to our space. It’s about inviting people into the community of Jesus, and that’s what being part of a church is. We invite you to be part of a community that loves Jesus and lives for him,” he said.
“This church was built by people who were clearly not afraid to advance the mission,” Wallace added. “They built [the original building], then added and added. They weren’t afraid to keep doing what they believed was best for reaching the community. Now, for us in 2022, moving forward means for us to take the next step. And we are not done.
To stream live worship services or learn more about Central Church of Christ, visit their website at: central-church.life. For anyone interested in helping the church house its shoe and sock ministry, call the church at: (740) 353-5846.
Demolition crews are working diligently to set aside the original foundation stone of Christ Central Church, which the church hopes to somehow preserve as plans are developed. for space go ahead.
Chief Minister Thayer Wallace poses with his daughter Everleigh in the sanctuary of the current Central Church of Christ building. The congregation has met for services in the building right next to the demolition site for the past two years.
Contact Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by e-mail to [email protected]
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