Chesapeake church destroyed by tornado close to re-opening new building


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A Chesapeake Church destroyed in a storm last year is celebrating the Christmas season for the last time in a temporary space.

Real Life Christian Church is putting the finishing touches on its new building before opening the doors next month.

An E-F 2 tornado caused part of the church to collapse back in March of 2017.

Since then, members have been meeting at a local high school for services while the new building was under construction.

Weather and typical construction delays pushed the full move-in date back to 2019. 

Church members are just weeks away from stepping into their new building so in the meantime, they had to get creative and come together for Christmas service this year.

Each weekend, the gym at Atlantic Shores Christian School is transformed into a place of worship and Christmas Eve was no different.

For Real Life Christian Church members, it’s not quite home for the holidays just yet but it sure felt like it.

“We wanted it more of a homey feeling, something that felt less like a gym and more like sitting in a living room,” Pastor Drew Froese said.

Froese asked members to bring lamps, extension cords, even a fake fireplace and a Christmas tree to complete the look. 

In just over two weeks, church members will have a place to call their own again.

“Just this last weekend we moved our offices in,” Froese said. “We’ve got our temporary certificate of occupancy which means that we have one more to get and then the city clears it and then we can meet. On the 13th we’ll have our first services and we are just so excited. It’s going to be so, so cool.”

Church members are anxious too but right now, their focus is on the present.

“It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the building and the things and we really wanted to focus on what it really means for Christmas,” said church member Erin Vickerie.

Froese said new building or not, the Christmas services are a good reminder for members to take a step back and remember the reason for the season.   

“Being homeless, if you will, well Jesus was homeless too,” Froese said. “So whether we meet here or whether we meet in our new building or whether we have no building at all, we’re still called to do God’s work.”

Real Life will hold an open house for the community on January 12 and the first service in the new building will be January 13.

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