What a Thanksgiving! Church pays off mortgage early

November 28, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

When the building committee agreed in 1995 to take on an expansion and renovation project at Indian Hills Christian Church, the congregation committed to give $413,000 over a three-year period.

But never in its wildest dreams did the congregation think it could pull off the plan and pay off an additional $504,000 bank mortgage by 2003.

The members worked on the building and saved thousands of dollars to make the dream come true. The church went over its commitment by $54,000 and gave $467,000. This year, it exceeded a Thanksgiving offering goal of $27,000 by $5,640.

Church Minister Odis Clark is a bit overwhelmed with his congregation in its work and vision for the church.

"We went through the expansion program without a problem," he said. "It's a miracle story."

The church will be at the same location on Grabruck Street for 40 years in 2004. "We're just a baby compared to some of the older churches in town," he said.


He calls the building project a "positive experience" and gives credit to the church's first pastor, Dale Jacobs, who served 10 years while the first phase was built, and to the congregation.

"I'm so appreciative of every member," said Clark, who is in his 38th year as minister at Indian Hills.

He is still amazed when he thinks about the Thanksgiving offering and the overall participation by members to reach the milestone. "We prayed about and planned the project" and the Thanksgiving service ended that phase of the work, he said.

The Sunday activities at the church included the recognition of 44 people who shared a public decision, the note burning with 310 people in the worship service, and a Thanksgiving dinner Sunday night when 200 people showed up.

Clark said the church building is worth between $1.5 and $1.75 million, but it's just a building. It's the congregation that counts, he said.

"We want the credit to go to our Heavenly Father," he said.

The church organized in 1964 as Stanford Road Christian Church. The congregation bought the Grabruck property in 1964 and became Indian Hills Christian Church. A house was used as a church for a few years. The upstairs was open for worship service, and the downstairs section was Sunday school rooms.

The new sanctuary was built in 1968 while Jacobs was still minister.

Clark said Jacobs encouraged the church and remains a close friend to the congregation.

When debts were paid off in 1980, the sanctuary was renovated, then a long-range planning committee was named. Out of that came the building and expansion program, Clark said.

The building and expansion committee members who worked on the project are Chairman Gary Lane, Jim Lawson, Connie Austin, Tommy Adams, Randy Adams, Jim Crouch, Jane Sharp, Ron Floyd, Ray Gardner, Hollis Perry, Dallas Waterfill and Gary Zachary. The late Craig Burns and W.T. Million also served on the committee.

Even with the recent expansion, the church is still growing out of room for its congregation that represents seven counties.

"We realize a building is just a tool. We want to make a difference in the community, but we try not to get too wrapped up in the building," Clark said. "We want to work with the smallest child and the oldest person to make a difference," he said.

"This shows where the people's hearts are," he said.

The auditorium was planned with the mature people in mind, he said. It is one level with no steps and is functional.

The church has three fulltime ministries: a jail ministry, the food pantry and helps the pregnancy resource center. It also works with Habitat for Humanity, Woodlawn Children's Campus and Senior Citizens Center. Clark teaches Sunday school at Arnold Towers weekly.

"We have two morning worship services and may have to go to three morning services," he said.

A contemporary service is held Sunday evenings. Two other ministers, Lance Ladd and Justin Gillespie, work at the church.

Clark said a committee is currently studying future expansion.

"We built the church as a tool to bring people together," he said. The plan apparently worked for Indian Hills which keeps outgrowing its buildings.

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