Growing where it was planted
Church opens doors
Grace Community Fellowship has been in Hillsboro since April 2012, but Sunday will be the first time the congregation will meet in its own home on N. Adams St.
The church is an outplant from Grace Community Church in Newton.
When asked why Hillsboro needed another church, Pastor Mike Barter said, “Every church is an open door for someplace to go. Until everyone in Hillsboro goes to church, we probably could use more.
“I would hope we aren’t in competition with other churches but have the same goal of bringing people to Christ,” he said.
The conference his church belongs to, Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, has more than 60 churches nationwide, and one of their missions is to start new churches.
The Newton church has started other congregations in Moundridge and Park City.
“When you plant a new church, you lose members and money, but it’s done for the bigger picture,” Barter said.
Barter was an elder in the Newton church and was teaching fire science at Hutchinson Community College when he was called to the Hillsboro church. He had been a full-time firefighter in St. Louis, Missouri, for 12 years before moving to Newton. He has a master’s in Christian education and administration from Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
Barter was not a stranger to the Hillsboro church because he had filled in for the former pastor a few times. He became full-time May 29.
He moved into his office at the new building last week.
Volunteer church members have provided many hours of labor, he said, and local businesses were hired to provide services and equipment.
The County Seat in Marion installed carpet, tile, and flooring. Merle Flaming, a church member, served as general contractor. His business, Flaming Heating and Air Conditioning, installed a geo-thermal heating and cooling system.
Flaming built the stage for the auditorium and the pergola over the lounge area. Funk Electric of Goessel did wiring. Voth Construction of Goessel provided custom-made bathroom stall doors and other woodwork.
Members Dave and Sue Baker of Baker Printing in Hillsboro installed the sound system and projectors for the auditorium. Services can be streamed into the lobby, kitchen, nursery, and several other rooms.
Volunteers poured the concrete for the parking lot under the supervision of city employee Barry Funk, who provided finishing touches.
“We were able to do that with his help,” Barter said.
The high-ceilinged lobby features a coffee bar in one corner and a lounge at one end. A large design of the church logo sits on a 25-foot wall above the bar. Designed by Sue Baker and Jeannie Wildin, it was built and installed by Jeannie and her husband, Brad.
The meeting room can hold 299 people. A large, framed glass door built by member Adam Kleiber of Ag Services will be used to close off the auditorium from the lobby. Kleiber also built the awning on front of the building.
The facility includes classrooms for Sunday school and Wednesday evening programs, a nursery with kid-friendly bathroom and crib room, and a large kitchen. The kitchen opens to the meeting area that will be used for social events as well as church services.
The church has 40 members and an average attendance of 120. Barter hopes to convince more attendees to join.
“You take ownership, accountability, and responsibility if you are a member,” he said. “I am excited to see what the church will do going forward. I think the building will do a lot for us.”
Barter said the church would be available to be used for community events such as weddings.
A coffee and social hour from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday will precede the worship service.