“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
One can only imagine what Sinclair Lewis would have made of a more recent preaching dynamo, the larger-than-life Rev. Jerry Johnston, pastor of the now-defunct megachurch, the First Family Church in Overland Park, and the recently disbanded New Day Church in Olathe. Before losing the First Family Church last year — the building went into foreclosure and the owner, Regions Bank, sold it last April — Johnston had a congregation that numbered 4,000 members as recently as 18 months ago.
A church with that many members requires a very big house of worship, and until this time last year, Johnston had one: a building that, from the highway, seems to appear as large as Ward Parkway Shopping Center.
The vast structure was still filled with a lot of things when the current owner, the Blue Valley School District, purchased the 51-acre property for $9 million. Blue Valley School District hired Lindsay Auction & Realty Service to sell off the unwanted goods: boxes of books, TV cameras, dozens of TV monitors, shelves of copiers, computers, toys, balls, a golf cart, and enough kitchen equipment to set up two restaurants and, maybe, a bakery and at least a half-dozen of the least attractive upholstered sofas imaginable.
There was a public preview today of the hundreds of items to be auctioned off tomorrow by the auctioneers, beginning at 7 a.m.
There are a couple of shiny glass pastry cases, a professional-grade Hobart mixing machine, lots of plastic coffee carafes, plates and glassware, and a gleaming steel three-spigot coffee brewer that could easily provide enough java for a midsized college campus. There's even a box with several old eyeglasses. I wondered if it was a relic from the church's "Lost & Found" department. A child-sized store mannequin is dressed up as Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz, but sporting a pair of dark sunglasses.
"It's gonna be a real madhouse here tomorrow, I'll bet," said a woman peeking through the boxes of hardback books. " I wonder how the prices are going to go?"
Go ask Dorothy.