Rivergate House of Prayer has started construction on a new worship center on Highway 99 at Rapp Road 18 months after it sold its previous Ashland location.

“We are looking to the next generation and the goal of leaving something that is lasting and new, versus a decaying church that will need ongoing repair,” said Pastor Ron Timen.

“In Ashland, we were in a little neighborhood,” said Timen. “Now it will be like a spotlight.”

The church is a little south of the Talent Urban Renewal Agency gateway redevelopment project. The site has a highway commercial zoning, and he’s had interest from a vendor who wants to park a food truck there during the week. Electrical service could be run out to the parking area to accommodate that possibility.

Offering space for community events is a church goal.

“We always felt the church should be a resource for the community,” said Jan Timen, the pastor’s wife. In the past, the former Ashland location hosted the Senior Aces adult computer education program, Ashland CERT gatherings, Ashland School District classes when Bellview Elementary School was rebuilt, and numerous other groups.

Timen, who has been pastor since 1997, also wants to resume his own seminars. He has done previous seminars on Christian mysticism, the gospel and the zodiac, science and religion, and other topics.

Efforts to sell the Ashland location, at Garfield and Iowa streets, began in the middle of the last decade. At one point, a lot division was done with thoughts of constructing of a newer building on one part, but those plans never came to fruition.

A sale was completed in July of 2016. Proceeds will allow the new location to be built debt-free. The Ashland site has been cleared, and construction of townhouses is anticipated, Jan Timen said.

The old church, which dated from 1965, had more than 20,000 square feet, including a classroom wing. Utility bills were high, and roof repairs were constant on one portion of the structure, said Jan Timen. Congregation size is 50 members.

Golden-Fields Constructions of Ashland is the contractor for the Talent project. Kissler Small & White Architects designed the building, which will feature a contemporary exterior with a metal roof. About half of the 6,500-square-foot building will have a second-story mezzanine. There will be an office, four classrooms, a nursery, a small kitchen, a foyer and the sanctuary.

“The design is very open, with lots of windows, lots of light,” said Jan Timen.

Target date for completion is Aug. 1. Services might be held in the new sanctuary the first week of August.

Rivergate has used Ashland Christian Fellowship’s Upper Room on the corner of Hersey and Oaks streets for the last year for Sunday services.

The congregation is associated with the Assembly of God. Timen, who was raised in the Jewish faith, incorporates elements of Judaism, the Messianic tradition and the early Celtic Christian church into his ministry.

Prayer meetings are held regularly in homes, and there is also one at the Pony Espresso meeting room in Ashland at noon Thursdays. More information can be found at www.rivergateinashland.org.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Email him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.