DESHLER — A part of the village downtown recently opened to the community as the Deshler Community Center hosted an open house event Sept. 9.
The congregation of Wave Community Church did renovations at 111 W. Main St. in downtown, and the community center will now be operated through the Deshler Council of Churches.
Members wasted no time in utilizing the space for the good of the community, hosting an event that provided free back-to-school haircuts for Patrick Henry youth last Tuesday. The space will be utilized in the upcoming Art on Main event on Sept. 28, as well as for food pantry efforts the first Wednesday of each month.
Wave Community Church Lead Pastor Alex Ruhter said the council hopes to utilize the space for a number of different activities.
“The Deshler Council of Churches is operating this space, and it’s free to use for anybody,” he said. “You can email (the council), and we have a master calendar, so we can let you know if it is available. In here, we’re going to have our food pantry distribution, there’s lots of Bible studies, small group meetings, after school programs for Patrick Henry, and we want to do after-school tutoring for kids here.
“It really is open to any small- to mid-size group,” Ruhter said. “We’ll have internet through free Wi-Fi here. Everything is brand new — the HVAC system is set up and everything can be used when you’re here.”
Ruhter said the building was recently purchased to start the effort. It was previously a chiropractor’s office, and the space was gutted and renovated to accommodate community gatherings.
“We used some funds from the downtown revitalization grant amongst a lot of fundraising to make it brand new,” Ruhter said. “This was our first building that we renovated.”
Ruhter and his wife are originally from Kansas, and they followed a calling to the area after he completed internships and residencies in preparation of planting a church. Wave Community Church was founded in Deshler, located in the building that previously housed the downtown hardware store.
Community involvement has been a focus for the church since its inception, and it now owns multiple buildings in the downtown Deshler area.
In addition to the church itself, a garage area at the former hardware site has transitioned into the village’s community recycling drop-off location. The building housing the Scarbrough Pharmacy was also purchased, as the building is being repurposed for the benefit of both the church and the pharmacy business.
While the expansion of the church has been part of the congregation’s plans, Ruhter stressed being mindful of the community was the higher priority.
“I told our church that the first thing we were going to invest in was something that wasn’t about us,” he said. “So we decided to build a community center first, and then give it to the council of churches to be used. So we did all of the renovations for the project and financed it, but the council of churches is funding the operations. That’s really important — it’s not about us, so the council of churches is what runs this, we just did the work to renovate it.”
With the community center project complete, Ruhter said a primary focus is now being placed on the Scarbrough Pharmacy building. The pharmacy will continue to operate at the location, but a portion will be repurposed to house an auditorium for Wave Community Church.
“This was our first step, now we’re working on our auditorium,” he said. “The pharmacy is still there, and it is in the back. But the front part will look similar to (the community center) with the concrete work. It will be brand new, and it will be our future auditorium. The facade on the outside has been changing, but on the inside, we’re getting ready to pour concrete right now.”
Those interested in utilizing the Deshler Community Center space can email the Deshler Council of Churches at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“If you would like to use it as a gathering place for your family or for an event for the church or the community, it is available to you for free,” Ruhter said.
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