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Out With the Old, In With the New For the Grand Junction Church and School »
Especially recently, dates and developments were part of the daily staple of the Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church. December 28 was a momentous day for the builders! “At 11:39 a.m., Gary Ross sent me a text message – ‘YES. YES!! THE CO!!’ In that brief exclamation, months of detailed work and years of planning and adaptation were fulfilled,” said James Fox, interim pastor. Receiving the Certificate of Occupancy became a tipping point for the Grand Junction Church project.
This development was especially good news for Bernie Hartnell and the weary members of the Building and Finance Committees who were glad that this phase was over. This process has been long and sometimes traumatic. Pastor Fox lists a series of challenges they overcame to arrive at that exciting development. He lists such issues as asbestos remediation, expanding building plans and project cost, church school principal and teacher transition, sacrificial giving in the short term and substantial commitment for the long term with a looming financial shortfall, as well as extended vacate deadlines with Colorado Mesa University, and more.
Add to this a pastoral transition issue, Fox explained. “This congregation, with God’s blessing, has successfully exited crisis mode! And instead of the crises dividing us, we are more united than ever!” he adds.
Having a Certificate of Occupancy means that this official permit allows the congregation to begin to use the new building for church worship and Christian education. The structure is now permitted to function as a public building within the City of Grand Junction.
This enabled the believers to hold their final church service in the old church sanctuary on Sabbath, December 30.
They held hands and surrounded the perimeter of their church and sang “Side by side we stand,” thanking the Lord for decades of worship at the 730 Mesa Avenue church and school. Pastor Fox looked into the future ahead of the congregation and preached about “New beginnings.”
They all beamed with excitement as they looked toward their first church service in the new location at 550 25 ½ Road on Sabbath, January 6. “We will have a dedication of the new building to the Lord and a special service of thanksgiving and prayer,” said James Fox, interim pastor. “Psalm 121 states it clearly, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.’ We want to invite the Lord to fill this new house with His presence to bless and dwell with His people,” he continued. “This Sabbath will be a time to reflect and remember how God has blessed us on Mesa Avenue through the decades! As we remember His blessings in the past, we can look forward with confidence to His presence and guidance in the days to come,” he said.
Since “we are a church and a school united in one building, we have passed the highest standards for Fire and Building within the City of Grand Junction. Perhaps it is more helpful to realize what our building would be without a Certificate of Occupancy, Fox explains. It would just be a building site with no public worship, gatherings or operations.
“Now, Sabbath School teachers and children’s division leaders can finish moving into their rooms and customizing their learning environment. Now, our teachers can begin to move the items that are stored in the gym into the classrooms and bring order out of chaos,” he added. A daily program in the new school building of the Intermountain Adventist Academy is set to begin in January 16. Preparations are underway to make it happen.
Church leaders say that the last major project, the Little Lambs Learning Center Building still needs to be completed and is on top of the church’s agenda.
The Grand Junction church is “out with the old, in with the new,” Fox comments. The church members are replacing the chaos of the last weeks into order, though the new church office is currently still “chaos central” with the old desks fractured and broken apart as they were being moved. Computer operations with Wi-Fi and fax and phone are not yet in place.
“Order out of chaos is in our future,” the pastor exclaims.
--RMCNews with James Fox; photos by Ronald Johnson