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West Allis church will ad-minister to those in need

Group buys old school administration building

Jan. 10, 2012

West Allis - A year after the West Allis-West Milwaukee school administration moved into its new building, its old facility has a tenant and a future buyer, both in the form of the River Church Assembly of God.

The congregation of more than 100 has signed a yearlong lease with the school district in a deal that will allow its rent to be put toward the $2.1 million purchase price of the building at 9333 W. Lincoln Ave. by the end of this year, said Deb Rouse, director of business services.

Remodeling in God's image

The building has been vacant since January 2011, when the administration moved into its current quarters at 1205 S. 70th St.

The Rev. Kirk Bougher said the church should begin a remodeling project this month to transform the office building into a sanctuary which can seat up to 200 worshippers.

The church was formed only last May after Bougher and music worship leader David Kaap were sent to start a Bible study group renting space at the Heritage Christian School, 1300 S. 109th St., West Allis.

"And it exploded on us," Bougher said of the way people flocked to the group.

Soon larger quarters were needed.

On a mission for the poor

The church now shares a chapel at 81st and Lapham streets with another congregation, but again it needs more space and is looking forward to their new home so they can get to work, reaching out to the poor, Bougher said.

"We are a group of excited people," he said. "We want to be a loving church that serves people - especially those who are down and hurting."

And serve they do.

Every month, members go to 8th and Wells streets in downtown Milwaukee to provide food and sleeping bags to the homeless. On Christmas, members served Christmas dinner outdoors to dozens of homeless men and women.

It was significant that the congregation reached out to the poorest of the poor on that their first Christmas together.

"That was the heart of Jesus," Bougher said. "That's our calling as a church, we're supposed to serve."

Eventually, the congregation wants to create a commercial kitchen in its new building so that it can provide hot meals for West Allis families in need.

A congregation in need, too

Obviously, many members of the new church are from West Allis, but the congregation also includes those from Wauwatosa, Greenfield and Waukesha, Bougher said.

A lot of them came from backgrounds in which they were hurt in relationships, even within the church communities - both situations which Bougher said applies to him personally.

"I knew I couldn't stay anchored to my past," but instead chose to forgive and move on to a better future, he said. Now he helps other hurt people get through their struggles.

He views the church as a "protected island" where people can work through their pain.

The new church building will serve as a key component of that island.

Their goal is to be ready to hold services by Easter, Bougher said.

Despite the remodeling that will be needed, the building is perfect for the young congregation, he said.

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