Ashley and Geoff Van Dragt are church planters and campus pastors in Seattle, Wash. Preparing a run-down chapel building to be the new home for Church on The Ave, their establishing community, was a bigger job than they could take on by themselves—so they reached out to the regional group of Christian Reformed churches for an old-fashioned work bee.
Over two Saturdays, about 50 volunteers met at the chapel in Seattle’s university district to lend a hand in getting the building ready to use. The volunteers came from seven different churches across Classis Pacific Northwest, the regional governing body to which the new church belongs. The Van Dragts put the call out in early July and were thankful for the supportive turnout on August 24 and September 8.
“We were able to give this old, unkempt chapel building a complete overhaul,” Ashley Van Dragt said. Volunteers painted, replaced outdated light fixtures, replaced stained ceiling tiles, and performed other maintenance tasks that had long been neglected. They also installed a new dishwasher and cleared a lot of debris from the outside to make the space safe and welcoming.
Clarence Deelstra, an elder at Shoreline CRC, was one of the volunteers at the chapel on August 24. He said, “It was a great day of not only being a blessing to Ashley and Geoff and to the vision they have; it was also a rewarding day of being together and working alongside fellow believers for a common goal. There is something special about the unity that a hard day’s work can bring to a team of strangers.”
The September 8 workday focus included resurfacing and sealing the floors and further work to a patio area outside.
For Ashley Van Dragt the workdays represent more than setting an old building to rights. “Folks from all over this classis have signed up to pitch in to get this building ready,” she said. “To me it's a classis-at-its-best story.”
Church on the Ave, right in the center of Seattle’s bustling university district, will hold its first worship service and community meal in the renovated space on Saturday, Sept. 15. The space will serve as a home for regular worship, prayer, learning, and a gathering place for student ministry, but the Van Dragts hope the church will be more in their community. “Literally thousands of people walk by our front porch every day,” said Ashley Van Dragt. “We want this building to become recognized in this neighborhood as a source of care for people who need it.”
About the Author
Dan Veeneman works in the dairy industry as a ventilation specialist. He lives in Abbotsford, B.C., with his wife and three children. He is a member of Gateway Community Church.