Celebration Community Church, in the course of about one month, will celebrate new beginnings and an ending.
The church this weekend unveiled a new 16,000-square-foot building addition that features a large, state-of-the-art worship center, coffee shop and plenty of “gathering space” for members to enjoy.
“We’ve never had enough space for people to just congregate: To fellowship, to have a cup of coffee, hang out and enjoy their time together,” Senior Pastor Kyle Ermoian said. “So that was our goal.”
The worship center includes seating for 550 people, and the church offers four weekend services through Saturday and Sunday. The front stage is equipped for live music, and images can be projected on the front and side walls, creating a more immersive experience.
A new coffee bar rivals that of commercial shops and will offer a variety of espresso beverages and smoothies at a fraction of regular prices, Ermoian said. All proceeds from sales will benefit the church’s missions initiatives.
The coffee bar connects into a cafe-style gathering space with tables and chairs, plenty of plug-ins for devices and floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views overlooking the city of Hays.
“This is our mission field,” he said of the city, noting the church’s location on a hill just off the Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 183 Bypass junction has always been an attractive feature.
The new addition connects to the church’s other facilities, which include the original building plus a previous addition to offer more space for children’s ministries and its private school. The entire building now spans 44,000 square feet.
The church announced a three-year, $3 million capital campaign to fund the latest addition, and has a policy of ensuring previous projects are paid off before embarking on new improvements, Ermoian said.
He has seen many changes since he founded the church 21 years ago. For approximately the first five years, the congregation did not even have a church building, but instead met in school gyms and other available facilities.
“It’s never been about the building. We didn’t even have a building for the first five years of the life of the congregation, and yet we were still a thriving, vibrant church because the church is not a building,” he said. “The building is a tool to be able to reach people, to attract them and connect them and grow them, and that’s been our mission from the get-go.”
This fall, Ermoian is looking ahead to yet another milestone in his ministry career — he will retire at the end of October. He and his wife, Debbie, have decided to move to Georgia to be close to their children and grandchildren.
There will be a come-and-go reception for the couple from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at the church.
Ermoian previously worked in the radio industry and says “God spoke to his heart” about planting a new church when he moved to Hays in the early 1990s.
The church started as a gathering of only 14 people on a Thursday night, meeting in a borrowed storefront, he said.
“I remember having a conversation with God at that time and saying, ‘God, if you give me 20 years in one place, I think together we could do something,’ ” he said. “And I’ve been blessed to be able to do that.”
Brant Rice, who currently is the teaching pastor and previous youth pastor, will take over as senior pastor. He will be assisted by administrative pastor Derek Mayfield, who also has served in other leadership roles.
Ermoian said he believes part of the church’s growth and stability is a reflection of its staff, which now consists of 17 people, all of whom are members.
“All of those people, every one of them with the exception of one, was a home-grown person who walked into the doors of our church as a guest for the very first time,” he said. “I think that’s been the key. There’s not a tremendous amount of turnover of staff, but they also have caught the vision early on and bought into the vision, and now extend it to other people.”
Ermoian has served on the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance and helped start community projects such as an annual Thanksgiving community dinner and a monthly Christian publication called ONE, published by The Hays Daily News.
He said he has enjoyed watching members of the church grow up and step into leadership, and noted he now feels like a “grandfather figure” as he watches the next generation enter the church.
“So that’s a good transition as well, because the only reason we’re leaving is because our grandchildren are 11 and under — we have four grandchildren in the Atlanta area,” Ermoian said. “We’re moving about an hour away from them to be closer to them so that we can be a part of their lives growing up.”