When Treb Praytor first drove past the Iglesia Building on Western Avenue, he knew it would be the perfect place for him to move his church.
The historic building, 1109 NW 49 St., was built in 1948 and started out as a two-story church. Through the years, it’s seen a multitude of owners and served a variety of roles. Praytor discovered the building in 2010 when it was a wellness and fitness center with an added third floor. Despite the numerous renovations, the Iglesia Building maintained an ancient and beautiful appearance and atmosphere. It had become a seamless piece of the Western community.
Praytor, pastor of nondenominational Vine Community Church, loves Western Avenue, and he believes Iglesia is the perfect location to raise his congregration.
The building attracts the attention of anyone who happens across it, and many of Vine Church’s members once were curious passersby who felt compelled to check out the interior.
Vine church originally set up at Will Rogers Theater, 4322 N Western Ave., where Praytor first grew close with the community.
“We fell in love with where we were,” he said. “We loved the fact that our church was meeting at, basically, it was a sort of bar. We developed a heartbeat for the people that would feel comfortable engaging God in that kind of setting and in that area.”
Vine Church outgrew that location, however, and Praytor was forced to relocate elsewhere. His captivation with Western Avenue motivated him to only search for places nearby, which is how he came upon the Iglesia Building.
“It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city,” he said. “On one side of the street, you got wealthy, and the other side of the street, you got renters and some people living in poverty.”
The shopping and restaurant district’s diverse population allows Vine Church to maximize its own diversity, a trait Praytor says is vital for a community church to succeed.
Every week, the sanctuary’s chairs seat the poor, the rich, the young, the old, the successful, the homeless.
BY KYLE HINCHEY
VIDEO BY CHRIS JAMES