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Remodel gives church new tools

Snoqualmie Valley Alliance congregation members, top row, Bill Bedell, Chris Clark, Keith McGehe, Marty Benedict, and bottom row, Ashley Van Oeveren, Mary Leonard, Jan Van Liew, Lisa Esteb meet in the remodeled sanctuary. The new SVA opens Aug. 8. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Snoqualmie Valley Alliance congregation members, top row, Bill Bedell, Chris Clark, Keith McGehe, Marty Benedict, and bottom row, Ashley Van Oeveren, Mary Leonard, Jan Van Liew, Lisa Esteb meet in the remodeled sanctuary. The new SVA opens Aug. 8.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

A $1 million remodel is giving Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church a modern place of worship, more space and new ways to serve its community.

The remodel began just after Easter at the church, located at 36017 S.E. Fish Hatchery Road in the Spring Glen neighborhood of Fall City. Snoqualmie Valley Alliance, or SVA, has met there for the past two years, buying the site a year ago.

“The facility was outdated,” said Marty Benedict, SVA’s senior associate pastor. “It needed updating.”

SVA’s congregation has grown to include the Sammamish plateau and other communities. Now at about 750 people, the church holds Sunday services at 9 and 11 a.m. Former capacity was for 350 people. Now, the sanctuary will comfortably hold 500.

“A lot of churches will build to make a home,” Benedict said.

“Our congregation really wanted to build it for another tool, to reach out to the community.”

The church’s huge stage and new media systems allow the church to hold concerts, dinner theaters, speakers and community events for all ages. A balcony at the rear of the sanctuary provides space for people, children and adults, to interact with the sermon in different ways.

That’s because people learn in different ways, said Lisa Esteb, SVA pastoral assistant and communications director. An art area allows people to create works of art while listening to the sermon, while a wireless network lets listeners to use their laptops during services.

“During service, we have a lot of people that blog about the messages,” Benedict said. “People will update their Twitter accounts on what they’re hearing, what they’re learning. We encourage that.”

Children’s place

A big part of the remodel focused on expanding areas for youth, families and service programs.

A new check-in area for the children’s Great Adventures program features an exotic theme — a Jeep grill pokes through the tiki-like wall of the check-in “hut.”

As SVA expands in Spring Glen, it is making room for other services that were provided in other parts of the Valley. Church offices and the House of Soul coffee shop in downtown Snoqualmie will close following the remodel.

House of Soul will be replaced by the Connections Cafe, a coffeehouse, cafe and bookstore that is the first place that people see when they enter the church.

“To us, the church is the people, not the building,” Esteb said. “But being in one place will simplify things, and save the community a lot of confusion.”

Programs for adults in the Valley, including divorce care, grief workshops and an alternative service for adults, will also now meet at the Spring Glen campus.

“Now, we have the space to accomodate a lot more interaction during the week,” said Bill Bedell, pastor of healing ministries. The remodel gives Bedell’s growing adult programs a better venue and full multi-media support.

While construction was ongoing, SVA met at Mount Si High School, and later, in the church gym.

For Benedict, the experience of holding services at Mount Si, where the church originally met before they had a building, was like coming home.

The finished remodel is likely to be a surprise to many congregation members. With only two doorways staying the same, this was a dramatic change, Benedict said.

“A lot of people have said, ‘I don’t want to go in until August 9,” he said. “They want to be surprised.”

The new SVA building officially opens with a special presentation Saturday, Aug. 8, by author Paul Young. Young, author of “The Shack,” a novel about tragedy, forgiveness and Christian love, will speak at the church on Saturday, and during the first service at the new building, on Sunday, Aug. 9.

Benedict said SVA is planning a special night to introduce the remodeled church to all its neighbors in Spring Glen. The date for that open house has yet to be set.

• Learn more about Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church at www.svaonline.org.

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