After 105 years in Wichita, West Side Christian Church will close its doors for the final time.
Members voted Sunday to close the church, 1819 W. Douglas in Delano, and put the property up for sale. Members will be adopted into Riverlawn Christian Church, 4243 N. Meridian.
“There’s sadness, but there’s also a tremendous amount of hope,” said T.J. Lawson, teaching pastor at West Side Christian. “We believe God has a lot in store. As Christians, we believe death is not the end.”
Officially started in 1912, West Side Christian has shrunk in membership since its peak during the 1950s and ’60s, when membership was around 1,500.
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About 150 people attended services on Sunday.
The church’s 1954 Art Deco building seats about 700 and offers classroom space and a gym, meaning the small congregation has large expenses, Lawson said. Funds from selling the church will go to ministries at Riverlawn.
Although West Side officially began in 1912, it has roots in a women’s Bible study held in west Wichita around 1908. Several women started the study group after a Billy Sunday rally, where they heard from the baseball player who had become one of the most influential evangelists of the 20th century.
West Side Christian has planted at least seven other churches, including Pathway Church and Riverlawn.
“Riverlawn is a daughter church of ours,” Lawson said. “They’re in a healthy place for us to move back in with the kids, so to speak.”
Easter will be the last Sunday service at West Side Christian. A celebration service of the church’s legacy will be held April 29 at West Side Christian. Members will join Riverlawn on April 30.