Freeway Ministries Inc. purchased the former Holiday Lanes bowling alley on Kearney Street for its new headquarters.
Founder John Stroup said the deal closed Nov. 15 for $500,000 from Bowl Inn Corp. The church is now fundraising for $1 million to renovate the 77,000-square-foot building at 1027 W. Kearney St. in hopes of moving in next July, he said.
“We’re riding on faith right now,” he said. “We raised enough to buy the building and put a roof on it. We’ve been here for six years. We’re established. We just want to do more.”
Freeway Ministries currently meets at the nearby Baptist Temple’s gym at 739 W. Talmage St., as well as CrossBridge Baptist Church in Marshfield. Freeway Ministries also has church plants in Omaha, Nebraska, and Cape Town, South Africa, with plans to launch another next month in Ash Grove. Stroup, who used to be homeless before launching Freeway Ministries, also operates two houses for women and a house for men in Springfield, as well as a farm in Marshfield, that help the homeless break the cycle of poverty, drug addiction and crime.
The nonprofit reaches 1,000 people per month, Stroup said.
At the 1960-built Holiday Lanes, Freeway Ministries will hold services and train others on how to launch church plants, he said.
The church’s plans come alongside those by the city to reinvigorate the 5.5 miles of Kearney Street between Kansas Expressway and Glenstone Avenue.
Springfield Director of Economic Development Sarah Kerner said while retail is the main mission of the redevelopment efforts, any empty building that’s put toward a positive use is a win for Kearney Street.
“Churches bring people, and people go shopping,” she said, noting a church is allowed at the property under its current highway commercial zoning. “We are pretty open on what developers and property owners want to do up there.”
A few blocks away, at the southeast corner of Kansas Expressway and Kearney Street, Springfield developer James Tillman and business partner Joseph Hulston are planning a development that could include convenience stores, restaurants or coffee shops.
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The move would come with a new property tax levied on residents of regional school districts.
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