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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : features June 28, 2016

2/2/2012 1:09:00 PM
River Community Fellowship gives new life to smokestack hill
An artist’s rendering of the planned building for River community Fellowship in Cottonwood.
An artist’s rendering of the planned building for River community Fellowship in Cottonwood.
What smokestack hills looks like before earth-moving.
What smokestack hills looks like before earth-moving.
Pastor Dave Arden

COTTONWOOD -- Sixty-five years ago this summer, the upper Verde Valley landscape forever changed when the United Verde Extension Mine smokestack was demolished in 1947.

Once again, that hill’s landscape is going through a major change.

After acquiring the property in December 2008, the River Community Fellowship church is in the midst of constructing an 8,500-square-foot facility. The site will include a sanctuary, fellowship hall/community center, offices, and classrooms.

A hexagonal cylinder visible on the front of the hill is actually the base of the old smelter smokestack that has been converted to a platform for worship, concerts, and for community events.

In addition, the church has been re-shaping the hill taking what used to be remnants of brick and rubble and turning them into what will soon become an oasis of vibrant trees and foliage.

River Community Fellowship was established in 2004 and is currently meeting at Tavasci Elementary School on Sundays. The River, as named by her people, focuses on building healthy relationships toward God and others and transforming lives with the complete love of Christ.

“Jesus is all about relationships—loving God and loving people. We want to be a strong testimony to the community of unconditional, non-judgmental love,” says Pastor Dave Arden. “The good Lord has gone to great lengths to provide this central meeting place for the city, and we plan to leverage this gift for the community.”

In addition to exciting worship nights and services, the new development will provide a venue for conferences, weddings, and community events including fireworks viewing on the 4th of July.

The church has been nurturing people for years strengthening relationships and renewing broken hearts.

“I call it the church that love built,” says Pastor Dave. “It’s about being a safe place for tired people, for hurting people, and for banged-up people. The restoration of the hill is a metaphor of what the Lord wants to do in the lives of people in this community.”

The projected completion date is “when the project is done.”

The “Before” picture shows the rubble still on the hill in June of 2008.

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