By Kevin Collison
If you’re looking for a symbol of how downtown Kansas City has revived in recent years, search no further than the new Church of the Resurrection which opens this weekend at 1601 Grand.
“When I moved here from Detroit in 2009, the Downtown Council’s slogan was ‘live, work and play,'” observed the Rev. Scott Chrostek, pastor of Resurrection Downtown aka RezDT.
“For me, we’re part of the resurgence of downtown. We started with nine people in 2009 and we now have over 1,000 members with 150 kids.
“It’s a natural progression in the building of the city’s vibrant live, work and play environment.
He was standing in the 450-seat worship space of the new $10.2 million building, the first completely new church to be built downtown in more than a century. Most of downtown’s churches were built during the last quarter of the 19th Century.
But the Leawood-based United Methodist Church of the Resurrection saw a promising demographic as downtown began to revive with new residential projects. It began services nine years ago in borrowed space at the Grand Avenue Temple.
As the congregation grew, it bought the former Crosstown Station, a bar and music club at 1522 McGee in 2011 and welcomed 675 members from all walks of life and ages, two-thirds of whom lived within five miles of downtown.
Things got so big, the church had to use the Kauffman Center for its Easter services.
A second location was purchased in 2013 at 15th and Grand to provide office space, classrooms and additional worship space.
And then in 2015, The Kansas City Star’s former employee parking lot, a full city block between Grand and McGee, from 16th to 17th streets became available.
And it has plenty of room to grow with eventual plans to double its size with an addition on its east side that will expand the worship space to 750 seats and add more space for offices, a pre-school and daycare center.
But right now, Chrostek enjoyed how his new church interacts not only with the community who worships there, but the surrounding neighborhood.
The interior of the worship space is raw walnut and exposed brick, with a cross and altar designed by local sculptor Beth Nybeck.
The big windows facing Grand offer a street scene still in transition, with new businesses moving in and work still to be done on renovating other neighboring properties.
The decision to skip the traditional stained glass was in keeping with the church’s philosophy, Chrostek said.
“We want to be transparent, vulnerable, exposed and raw, like the people who come in,” he said. “We want them to come in as you are. We wanted to be open to the city.”
Upstairs, new rooms offer the privacy and security for ministering to young children, something that was hard to find in the former Crosstown Station space. The lobby also is now big enough to host gatherings.
And the hallways and cafe are decorated with old black and white photos of the buildings that used to occupy the block before they were demolished to make way for parking.
The church held an open house Thursday morning for the neighborhood, and Jeff Owens, president of the Crossroads Community Association, was thrilled with the new neighbor.
“We’re delighted at how incredible it came out and took elements of the Crossroads and incorporated it into the new structure,” he said.
“They’re a great group of folks who’ve been incredibly helpful for quite some time in the Crossroads.”
The first official worship services will be Saturday at 5:10 p.m., and Sunday at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 5 p.m.
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