Freeway Forces AZ Church Relocation, Opens Doors of Opportunity

Carrying the cross from the old property to the new.

By Emily Ploetz

Looming highway construction, a church situated in its projected path, and a ticking countdown to a deadline. A greater, divine plan might be hard to imagine. But such a plan had been in the works for years, and when the time finally came, Mountain Park Community Church of God in Phoenix, Arizona, knew they had quite a task on their hands. The church was built back in 1997 and, even at that time, the church was informed that plans to build a freeway through the area were being discussed, but that no action would be taken for years. It did take many years but, in 2015, everything had been decided. ADOT, the Arizona Department of Transportation, confirmed the $1.9-billion project to build a twenty-two-mile extension of Loop 202 from Interstate 10 through the Ahwatukee area of Phoenix, including the property on which the church was currently located. Mountain Park Community Church was given a two-year deadline to find land, design, and build a new church building.

A bird’s-eye view of the new church building.

The relocation involved many steps and plenty of planning. With a congregation of nearly 4,000 members, there were many helping hands. The church even recruited some additional volunteers specifically for the first three months at the new location to help members and guests feel welcome. To encourage looking at the relocation in a positive light, senior pastor Allan Fuller created a music video titled “ADOT Funk,” a spin-off of the Grammy-winning song “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Watch the church’s humorous video here. Pastor Fuller has stated that the video was not meant to be a negative comment against ADOT, but a fun way to celebrate the process. The lyrics affirm that Mountain Park Community Church does not have to move; they get to move.

Thanks to the generosity and prayers of the congregation and community, the new building is finished and everything has been moved. On September 24, Mountain Park Community Church had a soft opening specifically for their members to celebrate coming into the new space. October 1 was their official grand opening where members brought their family and friends to worship in the new space.

The impressive entrance to the new facility.

The doors into the new building present opportunities the old lacked. The auditorium now includes stadium seats, couches, and high-top tables in the back. There has been a 30-percent space increase in the children’s ministry area and a 25-percent increase in the student ministry area. The lobby now includes a fully functioning café and kitchen so that the area can be used as a community center for fellowship all week long. The roof will have 4,000 square feet of open space overlooking nearby mountains, bringing outdoor beauty in for weddings and other events. The new building is located at 48th Street and Frye Road, across the street from a K-12 charter school. Mountain Park Community Church has already developed a relationship with the staff and students.

Pastor Fuller shared some of his favorite memories from the old building: “It was in that building that I learned how to be a pastor, a teacher and a leader,” he reflects. “I’ve made lots of mistakes inside those walls, yet God has graciously used me in the lives of many people. My kids grew up in that building. They were four, two, and newborn when our family moved to Arizona. Now the two oldest are in high school.”

Proverbs 2:20 states, “Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous…” (NIV). This group of believers may have left behind a building, but not a church. Mountain Park looks forward to what God has in store as they travel the new paths he has marked out for them.

In Phoenix, Arizona, across North America, and around the world, God is on the move in the Church of God. Join the movement. Reach our world. Donate today at give.jesusisthesubject.org.

Emily Ploetz is an Anderson University student serving as communication intern for Church of God Ministries.

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