People can gather anywhere to worship, even at a Philly cheesesteak restaurant. At least that's what the members of Soma Waxahachie have done for nearly two years.
However, for the first time ever, the congregation of approximately 60 individuals will soon meet in a building dedicated to the Baptist church and serving its surrounding community.
Josh Elsom, who became the church's pastor in 2014, explained the church was initially founded in 2003 as Frontier Cowboy Church of Ellis County, only later to be called Community Life Church before finally changing its name to Soma Waxahachie.
Elsom noted it was important that Soma Waxahachie continued its presence in centralized Waxahachie, as it had operated in Straight From Philly for the past several months.
"I wanted to be in a place that allowed us access to the diversity of the community," Elsom elaborated. "So obviously when you look around downtown there's socio-economic, racial diversity around all sides of the square. So being positioned downtown gives us the opportunity to have a church that has arms wide enough to spread out in all those different experiences."
Starting Sunday, the congregation will meet where Cabinet Specialists formerly housed its showroom.
Elsom noted, however, he is not a fan of church buildings that remain idle between Sundays or while waiting for youth groups on Wednesday evenings.
"We don't like the idea of holding onto real estate and lay fallow for six days not having any good purpose, which unfortunately is what you see at most church buildings," Elsom noted.
To avoid it, Elsom sat down with Waxahachie City Manager Michael Scott to discuss optimizing the functionality for the downtown atmosphere.
"We want to welcome anyone who will bring life to the square," Scott said over the phone.
The two brainstormed ideas and figured the building would serve as a daily storefront for visitors to enjoy a tranquil environment.
The front of the building will serve bottomless coffee and flavored teas at a suggested price. The charming location will also offer Wi-Fi, numerous electrical outlets, and an exquisite view of the Ellis County Courthouse.
"This will provide another use while generating foot traffic through the work week," Scott noted.
To maintain versatility, the Soma Waxahachie logo will not brand the building, but instead, 101 South College.
The non-traditional church will also serve as an event venue to rent out for work luncheons, banquets, receptions, lectures, presentations, parties, showers and weddings. The site can hold anywhere from 70 to 300 people.
One initiative behind Soma Waxahachie is to worship outside the walls of the church and give back to the community and supports members of the congregation when in need.
Currently, Soma Waxahachie is raising funds to aid a local man who was recently diagnosed with cancer. The illness prohibited him from working for the past two months, and Elsom is hoping the revenue generated by 101 South College will contribute to helping more people.
SWEAT AND SHEETROCK
Elsom signed the lease and received the keys on April 1 and has made significant improvements to the interior.
Walls that previously held cabinet displays were demolished and a wall was installed to separate the front hang-out area and central section of the building. The wall in the rear of the building was taken up to the ceiling, and new drywall was installed throughout.
A 120-inch screen will hang over the 16-foot-by-8-foot stage.
Elsom described the aesthetic as modern and "minty-fresh cool."
Elsom thanked John Houston Custom Homes for providing the drywall and crew to install it. Stonegate Church in Midlothian also sponsored Soma Waxahachie and made significant contributions.
"I'm thankful for those people," Elsom expressed.
101 South College will begin to open the storefront on July 4, and will soon launch the venue website. The first church service will be held on Sunday at 10:10 a.m.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450