WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — What once was the sanctuary for the Tod Avenue United Methodist Church will soon be transformed into the Warren Family Mission’s community outreach center.

The mission invited members of Warren City Council to check out the space and see their vision in person.

It may be filled with pews now, but the mission wants to transform the longtime place of worship into a multipurpose community outreach center — a vision of the mission’s late founder, Pastor Chris Gilger.

“There’s a lot of construction that’s going take place,” said Dominic Mararri, public relations director. “We’re going to have to remove the pews, we’re going to have to put down some flooring, we’re going to have to do construction on the stage area.”

The congregation that was worshipping there has dwindled. They’ll still have services and choir practice at the mission, just in a different room.

The plans for the space include a multipurpose room complete with removeable seating for up to 300 people and portable basketball hoops, plus a multimedia room to be used for tutoring or life skills classes.

“For this vision to ultimately come to life and to know that the lasting impact that it’s going to have on our community and our kids — it’s going to be a beautiful outreach center for us to utilize and be a gem in the community,” Mararri said.

The project is expected to cost more than $100,000.

First Ward Councilman Pastor Todd Johnson has already pledged $50,000 from his ward’s American Rescue Plan allotment to help with the renovation.

“Now they’re doing more in the way of development of the person. The skills, the abilities, giving people a place to meet and come and be safe, a refuge, and that’s going to be essential to moving our city forward with all the progress we have,” Johnson said.

“I think the repurposing of this church will be wonderful,” council President John Brown said. “Everything that the family mission has said that they will do, they always come through and accomplish for the community.”

The Warren Family Mission hopes to start renovations next month and to have the project completed by January 2024.