Calvary plans grand opening at former cineplex, Village worships in small movie house in Maumee

1/5/2013
BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Assembly of God-affiliated Calvary Church will greet members for its grand opening on Sunday at the former Rave Motion Pictures 18-screen cineplex on Conant Street in Maumee.
Assembly of God-affiliated Calvary Church will greet members for its grand opening on Sunday at the former Rave Motion Pictures 18-screen cineplex on Conant Street in Maumee.

Calvary Church on Sunday will have its grand opening in a new location, the former Rave Motion Pictures 18-screen cineplex at 1360 Conant St. in Maumee. Seven blocks away, the Village Church will hold its Sunday-morning service at the Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., where it has met about nine months.

Down the road on Conant Street, the Rev. Cheri Holdridge will continue to greet worshipers at the Village Church, which has been worshiping on Sunday mornings in the Maumee Indoor Theatre after meeting previously in a building on Monroe Street in Toledo.
Down the road on Conant Street, the Rev. Cheri Holdridge will continue to greet worshipers at the Village Church, which has been worshiping on Sunday mornings in the Maumee Indoor Theatre after meeting previously in a building on Monroe Street in Toledo.

Calvary draws about 1,000 worshipers on Sundays, compared with the Village’s 50 to 80. Yet the Rev. Cheri Holdridge, Village pastor, said her church has been confused with Calvary, even on Christmas Eve.

The Rev. Chad Gilligan, pastor of Calvary Church, greets Jim Newman and Sally Newman inside the new home of Calvary Church.
The Rev. Chad Gilligan, pastor of Calvary Church, greets Jim Newman and Sally Newman inside the new home of Calvary Church.

“Some people accidentally came to our church who were trying to go to Calvary,” she said, “because they were looking for the movie-theater church. They laughed afterward because I said, ‘How did you find our church?’ and they were embarrassed and they said, ‘We were actually looking for the other church.’ But they said they enjoyed the service anyway. That sometimes happens when you have a church opening down the street: People accidentally come to your church.”

Sarah Holmes, left, helps her daughter Minetta, 10, read aloud the Bible in Calvary Church's new home as part of a seven-day project.
Sarah Holmes, left, helps her daughter Minetta, 10, read aloud the Bible in Calvary Church's new home as part of a seven-day project.

On hearing that story, the Rev. Chad Gilligan, Calvary’s lead pastor, said, “Oh, is that right? That’s fun. God bless them.”

Calvary has had a few trial events ahead of its formal opening, including Christmas Eve services there. As Calvary’s workers prepped for regular Sundays, members and guests last Sunday began a seven-day project to read the Bible aloud, cover to cover, in the new sanctuary, known as Auditorium 1.

“Calvary did that 27 years ago,” when it moved from Toledo’s east side into the space on Glendale Avenue that it’s leaving, Mr. Gilligan said. “The word of God is living and active, and we want to” do the Bible reading as a way to sanctify the worship space, he added.

The Village, affiliated with the United Methodist and United Church of Christ faiths, started holding services in a building on Monroe Street in Toledo in 2009. In 2012, Ms. Holdridge and Village members considered planting a second site and staying in Toledo but didn’t have the funds to do it the way they wanted. “So basically we decided to move” to Maumee and rent theater space, she said. “I think buildings are becoming a liability to most churches,” she said, laughing. The Village does “a lot of planning of our ministry together standing around the coffee pot after worship,” she added.

At Calvary, “we picked up about 20 more acres,” Mr. Gilligan said. “From a worship-space perspective, we actually initially lose some seats. We had about 900 seats there in our main auditorium; here we have about 500. From a technology standpoint, we’re able to do a lot more here than we were able to do there. As well, there’s an openness for people to come to a building that they’re already familiar with," a cineplex structure.

Calvary, with services Sunday at 8:30, 10, and 11:30 a.m., now has more rooms than it can use. The Village, with a 10:30 a.m. service, has to set up in a small auditorium.

But both movie-theater churches aim to serve Christians and do good works. Assembly of God-affiliated Calvary might have raised nearly $50,000 during Christmas Week; Ms. Holdridge said the Village took in $5,200 in its “Hope for Children Near and Far” Christmas offering, which will be given to a children’s home in Zimbabwe and locally will support the Village Kids Ministry.

“I wish them well,” Ms. Holdridge said. “You’re not going to get quite the show at the Village that you’re going to get at a megachurch, but we do pretty well for a church of our size.”

Referring to the Village, Mr. Gilligan said, “What I’ve seen is how unique every individual is and how uniquely God places different congregations with different flavors in different places for the right people.”

At the Village, “One of the biggest values we have is that we dare to welcome all people and we really live that out,” Ms. Holdridge said. “When a new person comes to the Village for worship on Sunday morning, they will tell you that they really feel that it’s relaxed and welcoming. We work really hard at that.”

At Calvary, Mr. Gilligan said, “We want to have an emphasis on the fact that people can feel as though they’ve had an encounter with God through his holy spirit and that they interact with people who they can connect with, who they can appreciate and live life with. Individuals who are curious about the Bible or about church and haven’t known where to go to find out more, or folks that haven’t been to church in a long time and are interested in feeling like, hey, it’s time, especially at the beginning of a new year, this is a place where people are welcome.”

Contact Tim Barger at: tkbarger@theblade.com or 419-724-6278.