How many people does it take to move a church?
Champion Life Church Rev. James Baldwin isn't sure.
He calls the feat of moving his church in a limited time period a miracle. Baldwin doesn't know how many people helped, but they got it done.
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski) Pastor Jim Baldwin leads a Wednesday night service at Champion Life Church that recently moved to the former Presbyterian Church, 12th Street and 14th Avenue.
"The miracle is when you have a circumstance such as the church needed to move, that people came together, knowing that God would be faithful and show us what our next move would be," Baldwin said. "They didn't fall apart."
In September, the 4-year-old church moved from the former Gables building downtown to the former Presbyterian Church at 12th Street and 14th Avenue.
As they were packing boxes to move, Baldwin said there was a time the congregation wasn't sure where it was going to worship.
"It was like Abraham when God just said 'Go,' but didn't tell him where to go. We knew God was faithful and he would come through," Baldwin said.
"It wasn't a tragedy. It was just a matter of time where you are packing boxes and you have no definitive address," he said.
Through the move, members of the congregation, friends, family and the community pulled together and helped. They packed, rented moving vans, unpacked and cleaned the new building and the old building.
"We put a lot of TLC into the new building," Baldwin said.
Some of the classrooms were renovated and painted, and a cafe for coffee and refreshments was added.
"The community and families and congregation worked hard together to make this a smooth transition," Baldwin said.
The first service in the new location was Sept. 4. Since then attendance has more than doubled.
Crystal Stephens of Duncansville started attending Champion Life Church two years ago, and she stuck with the church during the move because she and her husband, Jason, were comfortable and enjoyed worship services there.
"I really like the modern music and Pastor Jim's message," Stephens said.
She also appreciates the nursery where their 7-month-old son, Mason, is taken care of during the services.
Jason Stephens helped with the move, and they were excited to see how many more people started attending services.
Baldwin thinks the location has a lot to do with the spike in attendance.
With the Gothic style stained glass windows and ornate woodwork, the church is aesthetically beautiful, which appeals to a lot of people, he said.
"For some people they really enjoy that. The building we were in previously didn't look like a church. When you stand in this beautiful building, it's like an old castle. There's just something about that," he said.
"We can have church anywhere, but the beautiful aesthetics really contribute," Baldwin said. "We knew God was calling us to a new opportunity, the opportunity to move into this beautiful landmark church in the heart of the city. It really sets us up to be a missional type church."
Although the church may have a Gothic look, worship services are contemporary and casual. Baldwin has been known to sport jeans during services, and people are invited to come as they are.
"Most people are shocked when they walk in and I'm in jeans. It's just you can come the way you are spiritually and physically," Baldwin said. "It's not a fashion show. Nobody cares what you look like. We have people coming from all walks of life and previous denominations. God has put us there to impact our community."