The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 21, 2013

Old train depot becomes new home for church

CLINTON — Even though there are a few projects to complete, Free in Jesus Outreach Ministries is settling into its new location at the old train depot.

Rev. Jerry Drake and his wife, Criscynthia, said the congregation was practically on top of each other at the old church, 106 S. Fourth St. Jerry said now they will have room to hold their various ministries.

"It was getting so full in there that there was no room for people to sit down," Criscynthia said of their Bowls of Hope program.

In January, Jerry met with the building's owner, Mike Liphardt, to talk about leasing the space at 325 11th Ave. South. The church took possession of the building in February and work began to create the sanctuary, conference room, foyer, nursery, overflow area and fellowship area.

"God just kind of sent angels," Criscynthia said.

Members of the congregation and community, including Liphardt, volunteered with the renovation. A stage was built in the sanctuary for the pulpit and walls were put up for the various rooms. Volunteers also painted, dusted and cleaned and installed flooring, carpet, ramps and an air conditioner.

In moving to the old depot, Free in Jesus has gone from 1,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The new sanctuary seats approximately 200 people, double that of the old location.

With this new space, the couple hopes to expand the church's services and ministries. He thinks the nursery will allow toddlers and children who do not want to sit still in church a chance to learn about God at their own level while their parents participate in worship. The are also considering adding a small coffee shop and are looking into weekly "open mic nights" for area youths.

Currently, the church feeds members of the community with Bowls for Hope once a month and offers men's and women's ministries every third Saturday. The organization also offers college and youth ministries and holds a fellowship Sunday every third Sunday. The church has Sunday School at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday and a Bible study at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

A ribbon-cutting event for the church was Sept. 14, with many of he congregation members attending. A fountain area in the foyer was dedicated to the late Goldie Thompson.

Despite some work still not done, the congregation is meeting in the new location. Jerry hopes the new location increases the church's visibility in the community.

"When you come into town, you have no choice but to pass by us before you go anywhere else in Clinton," Jerry said.

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