Church On the Move
Galileo Church creates a new, unique worship space in Kennedale
[This post is contributed by our friend Sarah Martinez, who intended to publish it in a local magazine. The magazine changed its mind -- more on that later -- so Sarah shared it with us. And we're glad she did!]
Galileo Church (galileochurch.org) seeks out “spiritual refugees,” so it’s fitting that the church itself tends to do some geographical wandering. For quite a while the church was housed in Mansfield’s Farr Best Theater until a dispute between the property’s management and owner necessitated an abrupt move.
“We got a call one day that we had a couple hours to get our stuff out of the Farr Best,” said Pastor Katie Hays. “With one quick post on Facebook, we had 30 people at the theater on a Thursday afternoon to move all our worship furniture, candles, dishes, etc. to my garage — including church people, but also local neighbors who wanted to help.”
Galileo Church was only momentarily homeless, thankfully. A Higher Power was at work behind the scenes.
“By the end of the day, the owners of Steven’s Garden and Grill [Mansfield] had offered us temporary space till we could find the next long-term space,” Hays recalled. “Thanks be to God!”
The sojourn at Steven’s gave Galileo time to regroup and arrange a long-term lease with Reds Roadhouse in Kennedale, where the church gathers for worship at 5 p.m. on Sundays.
“The new space at Reds is a large, flexible room,” said Hays. “The furniture can be reconfigured for different worship services so that we can highlight different things — a baptism, for example, or communion, or a music performance, or a shared meal. And when worship is over, we can walk right out the door into the restaurant and order an IPA [India pale ale] that is brewed on-site. How many churches can say that?”
The relocation drama Galileo Church experienced was a bit distressing, but it comes with the territory.
“We’re especially trying to break free of traditional church necessities like building ownership, because it seems like buildings and property take up a lot of the time and resources of traditional churches,” Hays said. “If we don’t own anything, we don’t have to spend a lot of time and money taking care of it.”
Not being tied to a space has other pluses.
“There’s also a theological advantage to being renters: we are dependent on the hospitality of others, which is a real subversion of the usual church paradigm,” Hays said. “We’re usually saying, ‘Y’all come on in here and let us welcome you to OUR space.’ Which gives us the power, see? But what if we flip it, and the church says to its neighbors, ‘Will anyone welcome us in? We could use a little hospitality.’ Now we are the guests, and the power is flipped, and we can take our place in humility.”
Another thing: being a “homeless” church eliminates many closed doors.
“We do most of our churchy things in public,” Hays said. “Bible study, worship planning, business meetings — you’ll find us doing all these things in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops around town. And that, I guarantee you, changes the conversation. When your neighbors can hear everything you say about what’s important, what’s true, what’s good, what’s needful, you get real focused on talking about things that actually matter.”