This story was originally written for the Anchorage Press.
A stolen truck, labeled “Teddy’s Tasty Meats” was making a getaway down the alley behind the Church of Love and ran into the second exit of the building on Dec. 4. There were people in the building when the truck hit, but nobody was injured.
The Church of Love is owned by Cook Inlet Housing Authority. CIHA initially bought the church to tear it down and use the space for more parking, but local artists wanted to use the space to create and collaborate. The name has changed several times since the building was founded in the 1950s, from Lake Spenard Baptist Church to Love Church.
What initially seemed to be a disaster actually lit a fire under the Church of Love.
“It motivated renovations that we had been talking about and contemplating.” Candace Blas, manager of the Church of Love, said. “It gave us the impotence to move.”
Anchorage Community House, an organization that shares educational, cultural and social opportunities with the public, will be moving into the back space of the church. Anchorage Community House is known for their small venue, allowing classes to remain personal. Events include yoga, cooking classes, food swaps and more. They are expected to be open and operational in the church in February.
The space that Anchorage Community House will be moving into is an apartment attached to the back of the church. The wall that the stolen truck hit was one that they had been meaning to demolish.
“It couldn’t have hit in a better place,” Sezy Gerow-Hanson, director of public relations for Cook Inlet Housing Authority, said.
The Spenard Song Circle, featuring local musicians Emma Hill, Nick Carpenter and Jaybird Parkhurst had to be relocated on Dec. 9 because the second exit was not repaired in time. The event resumed at KONR Out North Radio. Luckily, no other events had to be canceled or relocated.
“It was a good thing in a way, and then kind of a bummer because it made us have to say, ‘OK, we can’t do anything with the space until we have the proper exit for people.’ Obviously, safety is the biggest concern, especially with older buildings.” Gerow-Hanson said.
The wall has since been cleaned up and repaired, and the Church of Love is looking forward to its upcoming events in the future.