Community of Hope has Sunday services at Leading Edge Academy. It is now seeking to buy a new home. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Community of Hope Church needs a home of its own. Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church needs to do something with its current church as it prepares to move into new digs. Leading Edge Academy needs to expand.

All of these needs may have been met with a quick series of transactions in December.

“Our Lady of Grace has been really, really generous in working with us really, really quickly,” said Rusty Akers, pastor of Community of Hope Church. “We’ve been in real estate, and it just doesn’t happen this fast.

“It’s a win-win-win for everyone.”

Community of Hope holds its services in the Leading Edge Academy on Adam’s Way. The church also owned two acres, which it had planned to use to build its own facility. In January 2014, it had a capital campaign to raise funds for that new building.

Akers said Community of Hope had been in talks with Leading Edge to split its acreage because both entities needed more room to accomplish their respective goals. However, the cost of erecting a new building “is still very expensive,” he said. Knowing Leading Edge had plans to repurpose and expand, he was also nervous about the future of his 10-year-old church at the site.

At the east end of Adam’s Way, Akers can watch the new Our Lady of Grace church under construction.

Our Lady of Grace has held Mass at the Honeycutt Avenue building for decades.
Our Lady of Grace has held Mass at the Honeycutt Avenue building for decades.

“I knew the Catholic church was moving, so I decided to see if we could lease their building,” he said. “They asked if we were interested in buying. I asked, ‘Is it for sale?’ They said, ‘No.’”

But the conversation set the boards of both churches reconsidering.

“We were entertaining [other organizations] that were interested in leasing it,” said Patti Coutré, secretary at Our Lady of Grace. “We had not definitely decided what we were going to do with the property. When the opportunity to sell came up, the board looked at that.”

The current Our Lady of Grace church sits on five acres on Honeycutt Avenue across the street from Maricopa High School. The building was constructed 50 years ago and has struggled to accommodate the population growth in the city.

“The board and the bishop said it was up to us to decide,” Coutré said. “They offered a fair price, and we’re happy that it just happened to work out.”

It has worked out fast.

“Buying was never on the radar,” Akers said. “This just kind of fell out of the sky.”

Though wanting to avoid sounding like a cliché, he said it felt like divine providence played a part in the timing. He said his congregation was surprised but “very positive.”

“I stood up in church a month ago and announced what was happening,” Akers said. “I said, ‘I’m just as surprised as you are.’”

The Community of Hope board came to feel purchasing the property was the right thing to do. But first the church had to go through escrow to sell its two acres to Leading Edge Academy in December

Two days after opening escrow with the charter school to sell the two acres, Community of Hope entered escrow with Our Lady of Grace to buy its five acres.

A new church for Our Lady of Grace is under construction.
A new church for Our Lady of Grace is under construction.

There is no debt attached to the Honeycutt Avenue property. Coutré said the money from the sale of the parcel will probably go to the Tucson Diocese to help pay off the new 38-acre lot and building on Adam’s Way.

Akers said the capital already raised will be enhanced with another campaign. He said he expects his congregation to need another $100,000.

Community of Hope has a membership of around 300, with an average Sunday attendance of 250. The building being purchased is not large. As the church grows, Akers said it would not be difficult to have multiple services. The church is also looking at options for the rest of the five acres.

“It will be nice to have a home of our own,” Akers said.

Community of Hope will continue to meet at Leading Edge until all paperwork is completed with Our Lady of Grace. Akers estimates the congregation will be able to move to the Honeycutt Avenue building in March or April.

This story appeared in the January issue of InMaricopa News with one correction. Our Lady of Grace is in the Diocese of Tucson.