new, $6 million, 24,000-square-foot building features nearly everything necessary for contemporary ministry. But about 500 Westside Community Church worshipers recently added one additional constructive element: gratitude.

Fittingly enough, it came during their inaugural service days before Thanksgiving.

The Rev. Dennis Aud, the 58-year-old senior pastor who cast the vision for such a structure about a decade ago, considered such gratefulness the day after the celebration of his 11-year-old congregation.

“We’ve been waiting for this (building) for years,” he said.

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Oh, he hardly meant the brightly colored, teal and cream walls or the modern, tweed-like carpeting with hints of yellow or the sun-splashed lobby, with its generous, inviting windows. And he hardly meant a sanctuary capable of seating up to 700 people, if need be, or the 31 surrounding acres that invite an evangelistic expansion.

No, he said before construction ever began last year at State Road 46 West and Tipton Lakes Boulevard that this building really would be about building — that is, attracting and discipling future followers of Jesus for the 250-member congregation.

“This is just another tool in our pouch,” Aud said. “That’s really all we see this as. The church has not changed.

“Our mission is the same as when we were on the hill (next to West Hill Shopping Center about a mile away) or when we were at the (West Hill) mall (storefront). So we’re not reinventing Westside.

“This just gives us a few more opportunities.”

Such as for fellowship meals. Their previous building featured no kitchen and only one-third the new facility’s overall space. The new one features a restaurant-quality kitchen.

Part of the Westside’s idea? Jesus often fed people physically before or while he fed them spiritually. And he used meals as a time to build togetherness.

The ample children’s wing? A tool to show young parents and their little ones how God wants to guide them.

“When I look at that,” said Westside charter member Pauline McBride, “then I know there’s going to be more growth here.”

Husband Gary McBride, who has chaired the building campaign, also loves the children’s area.

“I can clearly see that it’s set up for things that kids like to do,” Gary McBride said.

The all-purpose sanctuary with the tartan floor for full-court basketball and regulation volleyball? A tool for various activities to bring people together.

“Yes, it’s a beautiful facility,” said Denise Larson, also an original member and part of the fellowship team. “But part of it is for us to love on people who don’t yet know the good Lord. So, really, it’s what’s going on inside this building that will be so amazing.”

It becomes the most expensive church to open in Columbus since the $6.4 million St. Bartholomew Catholic Church opened in March 2002 with a service with more than 1,000 people. And it becomes the third new church in a decade to open on the city’s west side. Terrace Lake Community and Faith Ministries are nearby.

Already, Westside, with easy access to nearby Interstate 65 ramps, draws from a regional area — Bartholomew, Brown, Johnson, Jackson and Jennings counties. Besides direct ministry tools, leaders hope to see the building used for some community purposes, just as the previous one was, from voting to property association meetings to volunteer fire department gatherings.

“We want to be as community friendly as we can be,” Aud said.

And mindful of God’s roughly six million blessings for the congregation.

By the numbers

3: Number of sites the church has had in 11 years

31: Acres of land on the new site

250: Current Westside weekly attendance

500: Current seating design that can be expanded to 700 people

$6 million: Building cost

About Westside Community Church

Location: State Road 46 West and Tipton Lakes Boulevard

Background: Interdenominational

Worship service: 10 a.m. Sundays with contemporary music and casual dress

Small groups: Several options available

Children’s ministry: Children’s church on Sunday mornings for age 4 through sixth grade.​ Also, Wednesday Night Alive sessions for youngsters

Information: 812-342-8464 or westsidecommunitychurch.net

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.