By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
It's a store no more.
Formerly the site of Dollar General, the address of 102 S. General Bruce Drive now belongs to A New Day Awakening Church.
'Work has been non-stop for the past few weeks,' said Pastor Mike Rutledge. 'We've been remodeling the inside.'
Plans are to create some Sunday school rooms, a sanctuary and an indoor youth area equipped for basketball and volleyball.
And Rutledge is leading the renovation efforts. He's a construction worker by trade.
'I live in Austin but am called to lead this church in Temple,' Rutledge said. 'I consider my work here a privilege and blessing.' Under his leadership, the congregation of A New Day Awakening Church developed two years ago.
'I had been with the United Pentecostals but wanted to be non-denominational,' Rutledge said. 'So I broke away, and there were some who followed.'
The fledgling church met in people's backyards until they could secure a permanent meeting place at 713 S. 20th St.
'We were there for a year or so until problems with our contract came up and we had to move,' Rutledge said. Issues of unforseen debt had developed. 'So we were back to meeting in yards.'
That was a set back for Rutledge and his 60-member church, so they were grateful when the opportunity to lease the General Bruce site became available.
'We had a good thing going on 20th Street, something we hope to continue here,' Rutledge said. 'We'd have concerts, and the place would be packed with cars that lined the whole street.'
Worship through gospel music is something Rutledge wants to transfer to the new site.
'I like a blend of music, from black gospel to easy praise,' Rutledge said. 'We're a real 'come as you are' place. It's important to us for everyone to feel welcome.'
Congregation member Tony Mungia agrees.
'We're a lively group,' Mungia said. 'We're growing, and we want to be able to reach out to the community.'
People interested in auditioning for A New Day's praise band are welcome to call 742-7776.
Regular performances will start in the spring, Rutledge said, because the construction work should be done by April.
Even though the interior of the church is covered in sawdust and bathrooms aren't yet installed, the church is in its fourth week of holding regular Bible studies and worship services. Bible study is at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, and worship is at 10:30 a.m. Sundays.
'We're here,' Rutledge said. 'We're praying and working, and things are great.'
After the construction is complete, the pastor's biggest goal will be to keep the church open everyday from the time school lets out until 9 p.m.
'I want to provide a safe place for kids to be,' Rutledge said. 'That's why we're making the indoor game courts. There will be youth mentors here to supervise.'
Yes, the future looks good, he said.
'The move has only brought advantageous things,' Rutledge said. 'One of them being the parking space. There's plenty of room to park here, even for our largest event.
'That was one of the major complaints at our last place. People had to park on the street, and that angered the neighbors, and we were asked to move cars. But that won't be a problem here.'
And the public is already beginning to see the General Bruce location as a house of faith and aid.
On Feb. 24, a Temple woman knocked on the doors of A New Day Awakening Church. Rutledge let her in, saw the distress on her face and hugged her.
'She lost her home,' Rutledge said. 'She needs a place to say. She saw our sign, and came in to ask for help. And that's good. We're right where we need to be.'