WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Standing vacant for 14 years, the building at Market and Central had become known as a haven for the homeless and the building has seen it’s share of broken windows and vandalism.
However, Sunday, what is now known as The Downtown Church held its first Sunday worship. The church was built in 1947.
It was first home to Central Christian Church and later First Christian Church up until 2003.
The building was bought in 2006, by someone who grew up attending the church, after fearing it could be torn down.
Until a couple of months ago, the only residents were the homeless.
However, Pastor Joe Wright decided to step in a lead a renovation effort to spruce it back up, and use it as a church once again.
“We’ve had over 150 different volunteers help with this project probably representing 15 different churches in town,” said Wright.
Wright says when he first came into the building there were no utilities.
He also says there was a lot of debris, garbage and a lot of damage.
Wright says volunteers worked every Saturday for five months to get everything cleaned up and fixed.
He says they’ve spent about $35,000 on renovations and estimates they’ve had about $100,000 worth of items donated.
The downstairs part of the church is also being utilized.
The Church on the Street Ministry started holding their worship there nine weeks ago.
President Gwen Hagan says on average, they have anywhere from 100 to 170 people attend.
She says their ministry started 10 years ago.
She says their worship has been held outdoors, even when it is cold outside.
Hagan says having a building where they can hold service is nothing short of a miracle.
“Can you imagine being out on the street for 10-years and now you have some place to get out of the elements,” said Hagan.
Pastor Wright says some improvements still need to be made to the building.
He says while they have air conditioning and heating for a majority of the building, the sanctuary is still without it.