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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- WDRB) One of Louisville largest churches, Sojourn Community Church, is about to get a new home.
The church's move into a historic old building could help revive an entire neighborhood.
Tomorrow is Sojourn's last Sunday in its original Germantown location. Next week, you could say, the church is going back to the future.
It's a piece of Louisville history. Built in 1884, St. Vincent de Paul church was, at one time, a vibrant catholic cathedral.
But as members moved away from Smoketown, the church declined. The building has sat empty since the mid 1990s.
"The ceiling was crumbling, the plaster on the walls was crumbling. There was hardly any light coming through from the dirt and buildup over the years. So it was very much a beautiful space but it looked like a tired space," said Sojourn's Connect Director Jonah Sage.
Tired until now.
Sojourn Community Church is moving in next week. The church has outgrown its old building in nearby Germantown, and has decided to give this one new life.
"We wanted to find a place where it could be an investment in the neighborhood, stay where our roots already are and this was just a great opportunity," said Sage.
Sojourn has spent 15 months and more than 4-milion dollars to get the building ready. Combining the old with the new.
"And so this was a fireplace that was part of one of the priests rooms."
This 100-plus year-old fireplace sits at the entrance to what will be a new art gallery.
Sage says the project reflects the church's mission to present old truths in a new way.
"Having a building that is old, that has that kind of character about it, and then being able to come in and say 'How can we honor the past with a fresh interpretation of these timeless truths' has been a lot of fun," said Sage.
Sojourn is aiming to renew not just this old building, but the entire neighborhood.
Vanessa Woods has lived in Smoketown all her life. She's glad to see this infusion of new blood.
"Yes, we have a little crime a couple of blocks over, around the neighborhood. Being that they're here, maybe they can get them to straighten their lives up," said Woods.
"And you look at neighborhoods like Shelby Park, Germantown, Smoketown, over the last several years, those have been places that people are running from. That's where hurting people are. That's where struggling people are," said Sage
"So so we're very much drawn to those people. The same way Christ came to us, we want to come to those places."
This new-old building will seat more than 800, double what the church holds now.