Amphitheater springs to life at Community Chapel

Alex Paul

Pastor Mark McCartin probably has the best office in town.

After all, it isn’t everyone who can mosey away from his office chair and wander into a garden-like setting just yards away.

For the 900 or so more members of the Community Chapel, a new amphitheater provides the setting for their newly combined Sunday services.

The amphitheater is a vivid splash of yellows, oranges and blues all amidst a backdrop of dark green grass and trees. Highlighting it all is a large pond that acts as the backdrop for the musical stage and pulpit.

The work, completed through the tenacity and spirit of church members, has been the vision of Pastor McCartin for many years.

“I saw an amphitheater in the Medford area several years ago and I knew that it was something we needed,” Pastor McCartin said, walking to a picnic bench under the shade of one of many trees that line the area.

“We outgrew our downtown site but even then, I was wondering how we could put in an amphitheater,” Pastor McCartin said. “It has been six or seven years in the planning stage.”

As the Chapel’s congregation blossomed, Community Chapel found 42 acres just outside the city limits. The site has become a beautiful worship center for many of the community and the congregation continues to grow.

A meandering creek, trees, hills and flowers offer a pleasant touch to the senses.

“When we started building our fellowship hall seven years ago, we saved the top soil,” Pastor McCartin said of where some of the dirt needed for the amphitheater came from. “It really turned into a mammoth job. There’s 30 feet of fill on one side.”

Tons of rocks were moved into place and underground sprinklers installed.

The amphitheater is a “great outreach” tool to bring the unchurched to Christ, Pastor McCartin said.

“The Great Northwest is great because of our summers,” Pastor McCartin said of Oregon’s terrific summer weather. The amphitheater will easily hold 900-1,200 persons, so the church which is now holding three Sunday services, can come together at one during the summer months.

A visionary, Pastor McCartin is already thinking of ways to cover the facility and extend its usage earlier in the summer and later in the fall.

“We want people to fell a part of the community and to experience community,” Pastor McCartin said.

Bud Fowler has been a lead person on building the complex and Mike Villareal has been hired as a full-time gardener.

During a recent Sunday service, three persons were baptized in the heated, rock-lined baptistery pool.

“John Smith did a lot of the dirt work and heavy equipment work,” Pastor McCartin said. “Without him, we’d be another year or more out.”

Some other key volunteers included Bob Johnson, Frank McCubbins, Roger James, John Stevens, Bud Fowler, Mike Villareal, Danny McCubbins, Keith Cowan, Dennis Barnhart and Rob Younger.

A high-quality sound system will provide the church with an opportunity host concerts and other events of that type.

Although it hadn’t rained for nearly a month, the inaugural church service was postponed after the singing service due to a downpour. A chicken barbecue had to be postponed an hour or so but several hundred church members and guests kept their spirits up as they headed inside or under cover.

August 19, the community is invited to view take part in an open house for the new amphitheater. Games, music and a barbecue are planned for the whole family. Activities run from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.