One of the largest churches in the Tri-Cities is expanding — and the reason why is key to its mission.
Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities on West Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick is in the middle of a construction project that’s adding 43,890 square feet of space. The extra space is needed because the Christian church has outgrown its current facilities, and it needs more room to minister effectively to its flock and to bring more people to the Lord, said Matt Lewis, associate pastor.
“We want more people to come to know the Lord,” Lewis said. “(The project) is adding space to be able to help us utilize our ministry as effectively as we possibly can for the Kingdom.”
Construction kicked off at the beginning of the year.
Hummel Construction & Development is the contractor and DKEI Architectural Services handled design.
The church doesn’t have membership rolls, but it’s grown enough in recent years that its existing sanctuary — which can seat about 800 people comfortably — can’t accommodate everyone who shows up to services on Sundays. The church is now holding three Sunday morning services, in addition to other programming throughout the week.
“I’ve always said that when we got to three services, we’d get serious about building. So that’s what we’re going to do,” Pastor Steve Whinery said in a video explaining the project.
The project at 10611 W. Clearwater Ave. includes “building a large steel building that’s going to be connected to our existing (education building). That’s going to consist of a fellowship hall and some classrooms and a café, and then a new sanctuary,” Whinery said in the video.
The cost is $6 million, according to the project’s building permit.
Calvary didn’t conduct a capital campaign and instead is self-funding the construction.
The church also is adding a sports field off West 10th Avenue for its school, Calvary Christian School.
Like the church, the school has been growing, with enrollment at about 550 students in 2022-23. That includes grades K-10; the school plans to add 11th grade in 2023-24 and 12th grade the year after.
The church’s history dates to 1988, when a group of friends from Calvary Chapel Big Bear in California began meeting weekly for fellowship. They felt God was leading them to move to a new area and start a new church; a group of them — including Whinery and his wife, Bobi — ended up in the Tri-Cities in April 1990. The new church’s first service was on Easter Sunday that year, in a Pasco motel.
Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities broke ground on its current home on West Clearwater Avenue in 2008.
Lewis said that construction on the addition is scheduled to wrap up late this year, and the church should be able to move into the new space around the first of next year.
The expansion will help Calvary continue to do good in the Tri-Cities and beyond, Lewis said.
At Calvary, “we’re not trying to make people religious. We’re trying to introduce them to the truth so they can go out and share about Jesus,” Lewis said.
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