Tonawanda News — Sunday will mark a new beginning — not only for the nearly 90-year-old Grace Lutheran Church building on Payne Avenue, but also for the 32-year-old congregation of Vanguard Christian Church, which purchased the building this summer.
The church will mark its grand opening at 11 a.m. Sunday at its new site at 375 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda. Grace Lutheran closed in early June, selling the church building to Vanguard, which finalized the purchase July 31. A few services have already taken place at the building, but Sunday will make it official, said pastor Justin Collins.
“We’re really a smaller congregation, so everyone’s been working really hard a lot of the time,” said Jessica Collins, who with her husband is pastor of the church. Any given Sunday, 100 to 120 people would be working at the building, which marks a great increase in space from Vanguard’s prior site on 75th Avenue in North Tonawanda.
The work has included new coats of paint for many areas, changes to the front of the sanctuary to accommodate an open stage area, a bit of electrical work, two large flat-screen televisions on either side of the sanctuary and multiple security cameras. As much of the original woodwork has been kept as possible, as well as the pews, Justin said.
“We wanted to have it traditional, although we’ve not necessarily always a traditional church,” he said. “We wanted to keep it intact, we wanted to keep it what it was meant to be. We wanted it to stay the place where you walk in and say, ‘Wow.’ “
A number of programs still meet in the downstairs area, which will include an eventual meeting room, a youth room painted a vivid green, a children’s nursery area filled with toys and children’s church with multi-colored walls. In the fellowship hall — about twice as big as the old church sanctuary — there are plans for other updates and a café-type atmosphere.