The new tenant at Crosstown Station brings a different kind of act.

Leawood's Church of the Resurrection takes over the space of a failed downtown bar 

The new tenant at Crosstown Station brings a different kind of act.

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There is, for one, the man who admitted one recent Sunday that he'd never enjoyed going to church but had come to play in the church band. He reported to his fellow musicians a powerful first trip: "There's a spirit here. I can feel it. I want it. I want to go lay in it."


Not everyone saw the light when the Rez announced its intentions.

"We were extremely scared when we heard that a church was going in," says Jason Patch, manager of the church's next-door neighbor, Retro Downtown Drinks & Dance.

After Patch met with church representatives, though, he felt satisfied that no holy crusade would be coming to end drinking and dancing. And he saw the upside to the hours that a church keeps.

"With Crosstown, we were always battling each other for parking on Friday and Saturday nights," he says. "But the church — they aren't there at night. We have so much parking now. So the church ended up being a great neighbor."

When Resurrection Downtown arrived in its new home, church members took poinsettia plants to each neighboring business — including Totally Nude Temptations, the strip club across the alley. A female member dropped off the church's holiday cheer. (Management at Totally Nude did not return The Pitch's calls about the church.)

Resurrection isn't the only church downtown. The area includes congregations that have been in the area for decades. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in fact, has been downtown more than 175 years. In 1835, two years after French missionary Father Benedict Roux arrived in Kansas City to start a parish, the community built a log-cabin church at 11th Street and Broadway. With the help of 300 Irish laborers, ground broke on a permanent brick structure for Catholics in 1857. Upon completion, the church was the tallest building in the city; it sold tickets to climb its staircase and look down on the rest of the area. Today, the church with the gold dome has as its membership, according to the cathedral's Rev. Monsignor Robert S. Gregory, about 400 families (a measurement the church prefers to members).

"I had heard that they were coming down here. But honestly, I didn't even know they were downtown," Gregory says.

In 2008, the Rev. A.J. Vanderhorst, who was fresh out of the seminary at the time, set out to fulfill a dream of starting a church in the Crossroads. Vanderhorst — whose passions, aside from Christianity, include writing, photography and indie music — gathered a few people in a loft apartment. They called themselves Crossroads Church. More artists and others living downtown turned out to be searching for the right fit for their faith, so services moved into the larger Arts Incubator in 2009. When the Arts Incubator closed last year, the church began meeting at ArtsTech, a youth center.

Like Resurrection Downtown, Crossroads Church appeals to a younger crowd, those looking for anything but a traditional church and those seeking a bit of fun with their religion. As the church's website states, enshrining NCAA basketball is a core value. And Vanderhorst would like his congregation to increase beyond its current 45 members, but bulk mail and a coffee bar aren't options. Still, he says he doesn't view Resurrection Downtown as a competitor.

"Downtown is growing. There are new people down here all the time. There is definitely room for multiple churches to grow downtown," Vanderhorst says.

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