Looking to Be ‘the City’s Living Room,’ Church Moves Into Wolf Building

Posted

To Pastor Devin Wood, the meaning behind The Outpost Church’s name goes beyond the metaphor. 

An outpost, he says, is a mark of the frontier. 

It’s the last place you stop before going out into the wilderness, but it’s also the first place you stop on your way back into civilization to catch another respite. It’s a place to call home when you’re far away from home, and that’s the feeling Wood and his team are attempting to cultivate. 

“We want it to kind of be like the city’s living room,” said Wood, 32, an Arkansas transplant who for the last four years has called Yelm his home. 

In a city crowded with religious institutions, The Outpost Church is Yelm’s latest, and it is now located in the historic Wolf Building, on the corner of Yelm Avenue and First Street. 

The new church is the brainchild of Wood and the leadership of Sunbreak Church, a new-era styled Baptist church based out of Olympia. Wood’s new church is coming to reality due in large part to Sunbreak’s “Surround the Sound” church-planting initiative. 

Small-scale renovations are currently being made to the interior of the Wolf Building, which has been vacant since the Triad Arts Theater left the space more than 10 months ago due to financial reasons that predate COVID-19. 

Standing in the dark recesses of the building, Wood and 55-year-old Mike Elson, a volunteer from Sunbreak, recently discussed their plans and worked on breathing new life into a facility, which served as a performing arts venue for about 20 years. 

“There wasn’t a better place than here, honestly,” Wood said. “I want to stay true to the original architecture of the building. We’re not adding much to it.” 

And it’s not like a church hasn’t been hosted in the building before. 

Steve Craig, the building’s owner, said before the location housed Triad it was home briefly to Crossroads Community Covenant while it built its current location at Four Corners. 

“(Devin) kind of explained that they want to do more than just preach the gospel, but provide a variety of uses and services to the community,” Craig said. “It sounds like a very positive use of the building.” 

Throughout the months eaten away by the COVID-19 pandemic, Craig said a “surprising number of inquiries” have been made by individuals looking to lease the building located in the heart of Yelm’s downtown business area. But many, he said, lacked an established plan for building revenue or a prosperous financial model. 

The Outpost Church’s roots trace back to The Natural State. Wood joined the United States Air Force in 2010. He and his wife are both native Arkansas residents, and you could hear hints of that from his accent as he spoke with the Nisqually Valley News on a bright autumn morning. 

Tagging himself as an “aviation nerd,” Wood said much of his career in the U.S. military revolved around non-destructive plane inspection. His career eventually took he and his wife, who works as a public school teacher, to Hurlburt Field, an installation on the Florida panhandle just an hour’s drive east of Pensacola. 

In 2016, Wood, his wife and two children decided to make the move out to Washington state to start their own church. That didn’t come without its own challenges though, Wood said. 

On June 17, 2016, Wood got a call from his partner in Seattle with whom he planned on planting the church. As Wood and his family were in Spokane making the final stretch on their move to Yelm, his partner told him that he was unable to follow through with the plan as he was undergoing an unpredictable family emergency. 

“That was kind of a scary time,” Wood said. “The plan, it was kind of like, ‘poof,’ gone.”

The next day, the family arrived in Yelm, determined though unsure of what the future would hold. 

That Saturday, the family attended church at Sunbreak. 

“It was like instant family,” Wood said. 

The family bonded with the church over ties to Arkansas, Wood said. They quickly developed a relationship with the church — an outpost of their own as they dealt with the uncertainty of planting a church. 

Wood said he soon learned about the church’s program to establish churches in the region. 

“Within the first year, we knew it was going to be a certainty we were going to be partnering with them,” said Wood, who’s now finishing up a master’s degree in divinity from Faith International University in Tacoma. 

The church had planned a number of events for the community this last spring to help introduce themselves when COVID-19 hit America. Those plans, which included a large Easter egg hunt, were canceled. 

The Outpost was in talks with Craig throughout the summer, and on Oct. 1 the church received keys to the facility. The church held its first outdoor service on Sept. 13 with more than 100 people socially distanced outside. 

Wood said The Outpost Church hopes to have the interior of its new facility substantially finished by early December with a grand opening in early January. 

Most of the work done so far has been through the church’s volunteers and local Baptist congregants. Besides a small number of industry-specific projects — such as review of the building’s new electric system and work on its air ducts — most of the work is expected to be done by volunteers, Wood said. 

When it’s opened, Wood hopes the church is able to fill a crucial role for the community. 

“I don’t think it’s right a church would keep their doors closed Monday through Saturday,” he said. 

It largely goes back to the idea of being an outpost for not just churchgoers, but the community — especially today. 

“Life’s hard and times have been tough, and we really want to be that for the community,” he said. 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here