GracePoint Church celebrates new building by serving the community

Instead of putting on their best clothes Sunday, more than 300 members of GracePoint Church pulled on blue jeans and red T-shirts and set about serving their community.

They washed windows, picked up trash, cleaned toilets, painted a shed and cleaned out gutters.

It was all about having a "servolution," said Nancy Estep, one of the event's coordinators.

The congregation, which last fall purchased the former Cinemas West Theater at Central and Tyler, decided that rather than spend their first Sunday in the newly remodeled building, they'd do something different — show the people of Wichita they care and are willing to be neighborly.

As she picked up plastic water bottles and empty cigarette packs near Central, Susan Stipp called it a "pay it forward" type of action.

Cars sped past as she gathered bags of trash.

"There's a lot of fast food around here — a tremendous amount of straws and stuff," she said.

So why bother on a day when it was so hot and humid that sweat appears simply by stepping outdoors?

"Because we are doing God's work. He commands us to serve," she said. "And maybe with all these cars passing by, someone will see us out here and won't be throwing stuff out their windows when they realize someone has to come along and take care of it."

GracePoint Church is nearly seven years old, said its pastor, Rev. Mike Snow. Until this month, the church has been portable, meeting in Maize at a local high school building, and previously at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

"We are doing what this church is all about," he said. "We are showing the love of Christ and serving. We are doing what Christ taught us to do — to serve — and not be served."

Dennis and Linda Pierce used paper towels and window cleaner to polish the windows of an empty

office space near Central and Tyler.

"We do this to let people know we love them and that salvation is offered at our church. And, that people are welcome to come," Linda Pierce said. "We don't expect donations today. We are just tying to make the community look better. We are serving Jesus."

The church service/cleanup began at 9 a.m., and by noon most of the project had been completed, Estep said.

The first public worship in the newly remodeled building won't be until 10 and 11:30 a.m. Aug. 22. But once the congregation does meet in its new church, the "servolution" Sunday won't be a one-time thing, Estep said.

The congregation plans to do community service throughout the year.

As the school year begins, the church members will help teachers in local schools and help with basic yard cleanups and visits to the elderly.

"We want to make this part of our DNA," Estep said.