Last updated: August 24. 2013 9:52PM - 258 Views

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KENTON — You can tell a lot about a congregation from its house of worship.And then there's Kenton New Hope Fellowship, which doesn't have a sanctuary — but it does have a new homeless shelter.New Hope considers itself a “mobile church,” for the past four years conducting Sunday services in the Kenton Theater, at another church's building and, currently, at Kenton Middle School.This week, the congregation will open an emergency homeless shelter in a former nursing home it bought last summer. Officials from the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance will join with New Hope leaders at 4 p.m. Tuesday for a ribbon cutting and grand opening of New Hope Ministry Park, 13671 W. Pattison Ave. Pastor Jason Manns said the church bought the former Ravenwood Care Center in June intending to convert the nursing home into a homeless shelter and church administrative offices. Going without a sanctuary let the congregation buy the property and invest in their community rather than their own comfort, Manns said.The shelter will be developed in phases: Phase I, beginning right away, provides overnight shelter for those in need; phase II will open the shelter all day and provide a free hot meal; phase III will allow participants — individuals and families — to stay up to 90 days.Renovations are also being done in phases. Vandals and thieves damaged the 28-room structure and stripped its copper wires and pipes. Repairing the damage will take time and money.The Manns family is the heart of New Hope's congregation. Pastor Manns' brother and sister-in-law, Jared and Deb Manns, are the worship leaders and Jared is on the administrative staff. Their father, Karew Manns, started the church in the mid-1990s in the family's living room.The church grew to about 30 adult members by 2002 but was at a plateau when Karew Manns resigned as pastor and turned the congregation over to his son. Karew Manns remains a vital and active part of the church, Jason Manns said.By 2008, the congregation had grown to the point it was conducting two services every Sunday and still outgrew its building. Services were moved to the Kenton Theater and then to a Church of Christ building. Two weeks ago, the church arranged to meet in the auditorium and classrooms of Kenton Middle School.The mobile church status has helped keep overhead costs down and put the church's focus on community, he said. And the church continues to grow, currently seeing as many as 120 adults and 60 to 70 children on any given Sunday.The church does have plans for an eventual sanctuary. The former Ravenwood property includes more than five acres, Manns said, and he's shared his vision with the congregation for construction of a sanctuary there. While there is no time frame for construction, members have been contributing steadily to a building fund for about five years. They're gearing up for a capital building campaign to start sometime this year.“They're definitely excited about it,” Manns said. “The vision is very much alive, with the understanding it's God's timing.”

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