Indiana congregation moves into building
By Mac Overton
The Terre Haute congregation affiliated with the United Church of God, an International Association, pastored by Victor Kubik, conducted Sabbath services for the first time Jan. 1 in its new building, which is owned by the local congregation.
"We've had in mind for a very long time that a building for the congregation was necessary," Jeff Osborn, an elder, told The Journal. "We felt we needed it to be a light to the community, as opposed to the unseen approach" of not having the general public aware of a church's presence.
"I don't believe it's possible to let our light shine without having a building to let people know we're there."
Mr. Osborn said the UCG-AIA congregation in Terre Haute has several outreach programs to help brethren elsewhere, including in Australia, Germany and Eastern Europe.
The congregation manages tax-deductible funds for Mr. Kubik's LifeNets organization, which serves Sabbatarians in Eastern Europe.
"We're continuing a long history of humanitarian outreach," said Mr. Osborn. "We have this history of service to others internationally, but locally, where we have the greatest presence, we had the least exposure to the community. We felt we needed a building to have a true presence there."
About 50 people attend the congregation.
Members of the congregation looked at "a lot of real estate," Mr. Osborn said. "Suitable places to rent are not that plentiful in Terre Haute."
Before becoming property owners, the brethren had rented a second-floor hall that was inconvenient for the elderly and handicapped.
"We arrived at what we needed by looking around. We realized that what we needed to start with was a place for people to meet and eat."
They located and bought a 2,600-square-foot structure at 1403 Poplar St. Members of the congregation donated their time during December to clean and fix it up, and the church held its first service on the first Sabbath in January.
"We bought a 12-year-old building designed for commercial use," he said. "We were incredibly blessed."
The members at first thought the building would be too expensive for them, but found they could purchase it for much less than they had thought. It costs less than rent had cost at another hall, and Mr. Osborn said they could sell the building for more than they paid for it.
"There is one large room for the meeting hall," he said. "We had to totally refinish the inside."
Work continues. A tile floor was to go in Feb. 27.
In addition to the main hall is a private room that serves for many uses, including anointing and counseling. The facility includes a kitchen.
Mr. Osborn said the congregation hopes to meet in the building for the Night to Be Much Observed.
All decisions about the building were made by the local church board, with input from the entire congregation and "support from Vic [Kubik] and me."
One room is used regularly for young adults' meetings, Bible studies twice a month and a preschool.
The goal of being a presence in the community has been achieved, Mr. Osborn said. A woman in the congregation rents the hall regularly for meetings of an organization with which she is involved.
Mr. Osborn said the project has received "very strong support from the congregation. I've heard nothing negative about it."
He said the purchase was funded by special donations and that it took no funds away from UCG-AIA headquarters.
When the UCG-AIA began thinking about moving from its original headquarters, in Arcadia, Calif., to Cincinnati, Ohio, a few years ago, "we chose to support the home office by supporting a pledge drive to move the home office," said Mr. Osborn.
The congregation donated $10,000 from money in its own account and launched a pledge drive for contributions toward the cause.
"We collected close to 100 percent of all the pledges that came in" from members around the country, he said. "We took half of our own savings and donated it, with the other half going toward local outreach."
The congregation also helped the UCG to the tune of several thousand dollars when the church found itself in a financial crunch, Mr. Osborn said.
"We deliberately did not have a restricted building fund," he said. "We put the needs of UCG before our own."
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God