Community church adds new sanctuary

Work is being completed on the inside of the Fort Rock Community Church’s new sanctuary, as the church — which opened in the early 1960s — adds more room for its congregants and a fellowship and meeting space.

A community church in Fort Rock is in the home stretch of its new sanctuary project, with the goal of welcoming congregants into the new space in December.

The Fort Rock Community Church, which has been a staple of the remote farming community since the early 1960s, is adding a new and much needed sanctuary space for its congregants while at the same time adding space for meetings, fellowship and more.

Jeremy Warkentin, pastor of Fort Rock Community Church, grew up in the Christmas Valley area and attended the Christmas Valley Community Church. He served in a mission trip to the Russian far east in 1993-94 near the border with China; this trip was what set him on the path of becoming a pastor. He said after coming back to the Christmas Valley area he became a fill-in pastor at various community churches across the North Lake region while continuing to work on the family ranch. He became the pastor for the Fort Rock Community Church in 2015.

“About four years ago was when as a group we began thinking about adding a new sanctuary. A member of the church who is also an architect drew up the plans for the new sanctuary,” said Warkentin.

Since the Fort Rock Community Church is not affiliated with any of the mainline Christian churches such as Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, etc. much of the fundraising had to be done by members of the community. Warkentin said he was grateful that a former member of the church who passed away left part of their estate to the Fort Rock Community Church and he was able to use that money as matching funds for the building project, and help get the project going.

“One of the reasons we are building a new sanctuary is due to a space issue in our current sanctuary. We need more room for our congregants and for future growth,” said Warkentin.

He said the former sanctuary will be turned into a fellowship hall. This will be a place for community meetings, weddings and other group events. Warkentin said that one of the things about the community church, which is evangelical leaning, is that after each service there is a fellowship meeting for the congregants. This is where people take the time to enjoy company, food, and drink in a relaxed atmosphere. Warkentin said before the new sanctuary project it was more difficult to hold the fellowship as it was being held where services took place and took a bit of rearranging furniture.

“We have probably grown 20% since COVID closed us down last year. We re-opened early for services, and during this time society needs the church more than it needs bars,” said Warkentin.

One of the things Warkentin is excited about with the new space, besides having more room for people to sit, is that the new sanctuary will have a better ability for recording and sending of services digitally. Warkentin said with COVID one of the important things has become the ability to send sermons digitally, whether it is because congregants are stuck at home or people who live far away from the church can view them. He said the old sanctuary had difficulties with some of the recording technology, and that the new one will be able to livestream more and record in higher quality.

He said a group of congregants has been helping him with the design of the inside of the new sanctuary, and that the final steps are being taken to build everything out. This includes carpet, seating, windows and more. He said the project has been a way to unify the members of the Fort Rock Community Church.

“I am very pleased with how the project has gone and I believe our people will be excited as well. It shows what the Lord is doing for our community,” said Warkentin.

Fort Rock Community Church is located at 64671 Fort Rock Rd., Fort Rock.

For more information call 541-576-2888.

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