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In an era when most small, rural communities are seeing once vibrant city squares fall further into decline, Memphis is receiving a boost to its town center courtesy of a ministry and one of its main supporters.

Travelers on Market Street are witnessing a major transformation. Work began last fall at the future location of Ignite Ministries. Three old brick buildings and other structures spanning the four lots on the north end of the street, were demolished and removed, clearing the way for the current construction project.

A new 116 x116 building is being erected by Reiff Construction. The metal structure will stand two stories in height. The single story accommodations will house a gymnasium, playground, classrooms and meeting areas, as well as kitchen, fellowship hall and more. The dual purpose stage will offer a focal point for small meetings and gatherings in the hall or can be accessed from the gymnasium to offer a larger seating area for concerts, shows and other events.

The new facility will house Ignite Ministries, which hosts Sunday church services as well as a variety of Wednesday night youth programs.

“We are hoping the gym and the playground will be two big drawing cards for the kids to help get them excited about having some fun while they learn a little bit about the Bible,” said Les Richmond, director of Ignite. “Too many times, for kids, the last thing they associate with the Word, is fun. We want to change that.”

The new site will prove to be quite an expansion from the group’s temporary housing in the Masonic Lodge building, next door to the construction site, where Ignite meets every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to share contemporary worship music followed by a message delivered by Richmond or other members of the congregation.

“Our doors are open to everyone,” said the young pastor. “We don’t want to be some infomercial trying to sell religion or church, but instead simply want to focus on helping people to construct, rebuild or strengthen a personal relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The group will continue meeting at the Masonic building until Christmas time, which has been targeted as the earliest move-in date for the new facility.

Work crews are currently concluding the erection of the metal frame and roof, as well as exterior tin and interior insulation. Work will then turn to installation of windows as well as the exterior masonry work, as the building will feature a partial brick exterior.

Darin Shank Construction will be performing much of the interior work, including construction of the meeting areas and classrooms as well as the kitchen and fellowship hall, a few of the bigger draws for the community.

“We are hoping to be able to open the facility to the community for use as a venue for weddings, receptions and possibly meetings and other gatherings,” said Richmond. He added the building would likely be available on a rental basis with costs targeting the upkeep and maintenance of the facility, such as janitorial services and utilities.

Other uses for the facility will center around the gym, which could possibly house some area church leagues for volleyball or basketball to offer some competitive fellowship opportunities not to mention the exercise.

“We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to soon call this wonderful new facility home,” said Richmond. “Our hope is that God will use it, as well as us, to help spread his Word.”