Over the next 14 days we're sharing our story. Today, we're inviting you to spend 4 minutes with us. We know it's a long time and it's hard to stay focused. But we promise our friends at Soda City Productions made it worth your time.
Chapter 01 | When we all fit in the backyard
Before we had a name, a website, or a dime that wasn't given to us in a grant, we had 27 people meeting on the back deck at the home of Amos and Sarah Disasa. About ¼ of the people who said "yes, I'll help start a church" were family of the organizing pastor.
02 | Is that asbestos I smell?
That's Brad Allen, Austin Smith, and David Sloan. On a single Saturday in February 2011, we demolished the interior of what would become The Spot on Blanding, our headquarters. The entire church helped, all thirty of us. Since then we've grown about 2000% without moving.
03 | The church gets robbed
The photo says it all. We got robbed. Two televisions, a stereo, and some microphones were stolen in the dark of night. Only four months after starting we lost 50% of our value.
04 | First public worship service
We borrowed everything on a Sunday in April 2011. The chapel, sound system, copier, musicians, name tags, everything was a gift. People showed up for the once-a-month Sunday night services. Some people saw the red windows and never returned. Lots are still around.
05 | Not terrible church coffee
It was the first of many simple discoveries. Who said church coffee had to be terrible? Why couldn't it be freshly ground and brewed with some care? The decision to allocate more than a little money to purchase decent coffee to serve during worship came easy.
06 | First worship at 701 Whaley
Every single person that attended our first worship serve at 701 Whaley in August 2011 fit in a single camera frame. Even the sound guy, whose name we've all forgotten. This was another Sunday night, once-a-month service, at the fourth location. Once we got in 701, we never left.
07 | Church starts to look like Etsy
Our early budgets were slim. So, we made things by hand with recycled material. That's the communion table we still use in worship. Before that it was a door in our office. The pulpit we still use was constructed out of harvested barn wood and a borrowed heart pine cabinet door.
08 | Only screens we've ever used
Printing an eight page color program gets expensive. It would be cheaper to project song lyrics on a screen. But screens in worship was a nonnegotiable. So we purchased screen printing equipment to make covers. If you've been to church lately, you know what happened to this idea.
09 | Charty = Charter + Party
That’s Jason and Lindsay-Blair Simmons in the foreground. They are in focus. Behind them, out of focus, is the official charter of the church, a document that will not change cause you can only, officially start a church once. The names of 200+ people are on that charter.
10 | We fix bikes
That's Doug Ryan rehabbing the cassette of a ten-speed that was hanging in someone garage the week before the photo was taken. Doug is a Downtowner and our chief- mechanic. Others pick up bikes and still others deliver the fresh wheels to our partners at Transitions and St. Lawrence Place. Eventually they land between the legs of men and women who need them to get around town to the places not served by our bus system. The junior bikes are given to our friends at St. Lawrence Place who distribute them to children living with their families in the transitional housing provided by Homeless No More. We call it the Rerun Bicycle Emporium.
11 | Holy week communion
The photo above is from the last one we will have hosted before moving to our permanent home (see below). Next year during Holy Week, the hustle we've put on for the last seven years will induce less sweat and maybe fewer tears. How do you serve communion on a Thursday night to a church of 500+ members when the only real estate you can easily access is the 1,000 sq/ft of church office? You do it eight at a time. You go slow. You make do with what you got. The constant lack of space, not just for Holy Week Communion but for everything, was inhibiting until you let your creativity retrofit the ancient rituals into new experiences.
12 | The pastors double up
In January 2017, The Reverend Dawn Martin Hyde accepted the church's call to join the staff as our Co-Pastor. She and her husband Tim came all the way (back) from San Francisco, where Dawn was the pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, a Presbyterian U.S.A. congregation. Dawn and Amos share a desk, they share calendars, they share responsibilities for managing the staff and caring for the congregation. On most days they get along, and on some days they just gotta go home and decide to try again tomorrow. That's what it's like to share leadership, everybody says they want to do it, but to defy the laws of mathematics and make 1 +1=3, something more than good intentions is required.
13 | Central Energy
We are so tired of talking about ourselves. So just click here and read about how the congregation voted in April of 2017 to renovate an old power plant into the new home of DOWNTOWN CHURCH.
14 | Two Services
Beginning September 9th, DOWNTOWN CHURCH will have two services on Sunday mornings. Sunday services will be at 9:00 and 10:30. The two services will be identical. We’ll have the same music and sermon; the nursery and children's programs will be available at both.