Christ Memorial to open at new site Sunday

Christ Memorial Lutheran Church will close its doors Sunday, Sept. 18, after 55 years at 9712 Tesson Ferry Road and then open at its new location at 5252 S. Lind-bergh Blvd., site of a former Target store.

After the last service at the Tesson Ferry site, the church’s pastors will symbolically lock the doors to end an era and then lead a walking/driving procession about 2.5 miles to the new church home. There the congregation will celebrate “the opening of the doors” before worshipping in the newly renovated building for the first time.

The grand opening at Christ Memorial’s new location will be celebrated with a communitywide festival open to the public Saturday, Oct. 15. Several well-known lo-cal bands will perform at the festival, which will include barbecue, wine and beer gardens and family friendly activities. Open-house tours also will be featured. Admission to the festival is free.

Founded in 1948 in members’ homes, Christ Memorial broke ground at its current location, Reavis and Tesson Ferry roads, in 1950. A longstanding iconic presence in south county with the church sanctuary resembling an upside-down ark, the existing building was dedicated in 1962. It has had many additions and improvements over the years, but the 2,300-member organization has outgrown its facilities.

In December 2003, the church purchased the former Target property on South Lind-bergh, adjacent to Ronnie’s Plaza. Redesign work began later that year on the 120,000-square-foot building, half of which will be used for church activities, while the other half will be leased.

A member of The Lutheran Church-Mis-souri Synod, Christ Memorial’s newly remodeled building will increase its operating space by about 40 percent. Parking on the 15-acre site will be available for nearly 1,000 vehicles.

Inside, a spacious commons and reception center will welcome members and guests and lead them to a large 500-seat sanctuary for worship services. An adjacent gymnasium and multipurpose center can be opened to seat an additional 400.

Also included in the building is an adult health and fitness center with locker rooms; initially it will be free to the community. Volunteers will staff the fitness center under the direction of the parish nurse, who also directs health screenings, lifestyle fitness programs, and exercise classes. One class, specifically designed for arthritis sufferers, will start in October. The full-size gym will be open for volleyball and basketball leagues.

Oasis, featuring a game arcade and a lounge/meeting area, will be available as a community youth center.

The Christ Memorial Child Care Center will increase its space from seven to ten classrooms with room for 175 children. Day-care facilities will accommodate children 6 weeks to 5 years of age. Certified Christian preschool teachers lead learning and social and motor skills curriculum for the children.

The Rev. Greg Smith, senior pastor and a minister at Christ Memorial since 1977, is excited about welcoming the community to the church’s new home.

“A new location with new facilities is a shining moment for any organization. We look forward to sharing the news and caring love of Christ with our sister faith families in the south county area,” he stated in a news release. “Together we can all provide Christian outreach and be a radiant, welcoming beacon to the region.”

Plans now call for the construction of a free-standing church, adjacent to the renovated facility in five to six years. The current building then will be used for expanded classes, activities and other ministries.