NewSong Church to move into former Pines facility
In the years since NewSong Community Church was formed in 2005, Pastor Tom Hawkins envisioned that the church would most likely remain portable, renting space rather than having a physical structure the church would call “home.” But the pastor and his congregation were never ones to ignore the doors they believed God may be opening before them.
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, NewSong Community Church closed on the purchase of a facility in Raisin Township, formerly The Pines banquet facility, and will be holding its first service there on Sunday, Dec. 16. Hawkins said the purchase was “a God thing” resulting from a series of positive occurrences, including a price reduction from $399,000 to $220,000.
NewSong started out with its first service at the Raisin Township Community Center in 2005, then moved to the Tecumseh Civic Auditorium, now renamed the Tecumseh Center for the Arts. They remained there until 2010 when an opportunity arose for the group to meet in Tecumseh High School’s cafetorium. A short time ago, Hawkins and his wife were driving down Occidental Highway and noticed the For Sale sign on The Pines. Hawkins worked with Realtor Kay Prong of then Edward Surovell (now Howard Hanna Real Estate) and he could see possibilities for the structure.
“I wanted our leadership team to see it, so they looked and said they liked it. So then, we had the whole church take a look and they all had a vision for what it could become,” said Hawkins. First, however, they had to raise $100,000.
“We’re just a little church and we can’t go into a lot of debt, but one thing after another came together and we raised the funds in around five or six months,” he said. “Money came in from all kinds of places, and that was pretty exciting. And we like the fact that even though we’re in Raisin Township, we still feel that we’re part of the Tecumseh community.”
Hawkins said NewSong is an informal group and does not need stained glass windows in their church, and he and others already see possibilities for expanding ministry there.
“One of those is a marriage ministry,” he said. “It’s not just about performing a wedding ceremony, but it entails counseling, before and after, and working with couples who want to start a family. With this facility, we could conceivably be a ‘one-stop-shopping’ church, with a place to hold counseling sessions, the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and the reception.”
Hawkins also envisions other opportunities. The property has a building out back he hopes to turn into a teen center, and there’s room to begin a car maintenance ministry.
“I can also see an outdoor pavilion and a campfire — a place where we can have fellowship, which is one of the things that’s missing when you rent space and can’t be there during the week,” he said. Hawkins would also like to do something he did at his former church and hold what he called “Jubilee” for senior citizens, inviting them in for a meal and an evening of entertainment.
“This building is just perfect for us,” he said of the 7,800 square feet structure. While he’s been amazed at the team of individuals who have conducted the set-up and tear-down for NewSong over the past several years, Hawkins said it will be nice to have one place to call “home.” That also frees up the trailer that’s been used for equipment.
“What we hope to do is stock it with tools and relief equipment so we can be ready to go help in situations like Superstorm Sandy,” he said. “Just having this facility will give us an opportunity to put some of our energies in other places and multiply our ministry opportunities.”
He said part of him is a little sad to be leaving the high school. “Mike McAran and the board and everybody over there have been so gracious to us and we’re thankful for that,” Hawkins said. “I just hope we can be a real positive influence in this area. NewSong has such a heart for this community and that’s what we will be doing — continuing to build community.”
Chairs and other furniture were being delivered this week, however, Hawkins said NewSong would be holding a grand opening for the church at a future date.
“We just have to get things together and work out the bugs the same way anyone would who’s moving into a new house,” he said. NewSong holds Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. The church is located at 5211 S. Occidental Highway.