After holding services in the gymnasium of the 100-member Northside Christian Church for nearly two years, the 250-member Springs Church of Christ, home to both Oklahoma Christian faculty and students, will soon move to a permanent location.
In June 2017, the Springs purchased the new property, located at 21477 N. Western Ave. in North Edmond, OK. The Springs staff moved into the office space of the building late last month, but church services will continue to take place in the Northside gym until mid-2018, when the new location is fully renovated.
Facing declining membership and rising maintenance costs, the Springs sold its 20,000-square-foot complex to the neighboring Quail Springs Baptist Church in February 2016. The church held its final service in the old building March 6, 2016.
Senior Audrey Gibson, the only Oklahoma Christian student who is an active member of The Springs, began worshipping with the congregation as they were planning to move out of their former building in late 2015. She said the stability of a permanent church location might attract other Oklahoma Christian students to attend.
“When they were in their transition period, they used to talk about the building a lot, so as a visitor you might not understand what’s happening,” Gibson said. “But recently, they’ve been more vision-focused, saying, ‘This is our church, this is who we’re going to be.’ With the building now figured out, they’ll naturally be able to have a more structured college ministry and focus on Oklahoma Christian students more as a whole.”
Executive Minister Kelly Osborne said The Springs began searching for a temporary home in 2015 before finalizing their sale with Quail Springs. She said after looking into renting out school buildings and movie theatres, elders and ministers decided cohabiting with another church might be the best option.
“There was a season where our preacher had gone down to Northside and done some work, so we were friendly with them,” Osborne said. “One afternoon, we went by and asked Terry Hull, the preacher at Northside Christian Church, if we could run an idea by him. He said sure, so we talked it out, and he said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ Northside was very gracious about it—our elders and their elders met and we talked through the complexities of sharing the building. Everybody was willing to work and make it doable.”
According to Osborne, both sides have made some sacrifices in order for the arrangement to work. On Sunday mornings, many members from The Springs park in NorthPark Mall’s parking lot and ride a shuttle to the church building. On some occasions, The Springs has had to clear out the gym quickly after Sunday services to give Northside space to host a potluck. Both churches have combined Sunday school classes.
“Some of the complications have ended up being really fun and good,” Osborne said. “We’ve enjoyed sharing children’s classes. We just did trunk or treat together; we had over 800 kids from the neighborhood come to our parking lot. It was great, because either church would have a hard time pulling off this event on our own, but together we can do it.”
Professor of Math Monica Muza said she was among the members who were not initially pleased with the decision to move into someone else’s church building.
“I was not excited about it and definitely considered other church options,” Muza said. “I was nervous about the idea of sharing space, trying to go to church but feeling like a guest in someone else’s home. When you live with someone else, you feel like you have to behave a certain way, and you just can’t quite get comfortable.”
Muza said her hesitations about sharing space have disappeared after spending time with members of the Northside congregation. She said the congregations have partnered to host several events and her children have been invited to birthday parties for kids who attend Northside.
“Sharing a building has actually been great,” Muza said. “They really welcomed us in. In our children’s ministry, there are some things we’ve done together we wouldn’t have been able to do ourselves. We do ladies bible studies together on Tuesday. We’ve grown closer to God together, and if anything, I’m kind of sad to leave.”
Osborne said she believes the period of transition has been beneficial to both congregations. She said even though the two churches do not agree on some theological issues, they have both been able to work together for a common good.
“I feel like God has been really faithful to give us this fun season of partnership with Northside, and then to also provide for us a new facility, which fits us and gives us room to give budget and money towards ministry,” Osborne said. “It’s been a good journey and it’s built all of our faith’s in the process.”