After years without a church to call their own, the members of Victory Temple Church of God in Christ are about to have a new home. Later this month, or early next, Superintendent Johnny Banks and his congregation will happily be able to worship and praise God in their new church home at 23rd and Hillside.
If you haven’t driven by the site lately, you’re in for a surprise. The old building that sits back from Hillside no longer reflects its diverse and interesting past. The building was initially constructed as an airplane hanger. Yes, that site used to be a part of an airport, which explains the corrugated metal and circular cross sections. The airport closed in the late 40s.
Old school Wichitans may remember the building as the site of several of the city’s hottest night clubs in the 50’s and 60’s. That’s why more than few conversations were shared when, after years of standing vacant, the building was converted to a church. Mark Gilkey, now Bishop of Kansas Southwest Church of God in Christ Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, used the building for his church until he merged his congregation with his father’s, St. Mark Church of God in Christ.
For a while, the Kansas Southwest Jurisdiction used the building as their state office, but several years ago, they sold it to the Mennonites.
Victory Temple sold their church building at 16th and Volutsia and worshipped at what is now Word of Life Church at 12th and Oliver for nearly three years. When they weren’t able to come to an agreement to purchase the building, they were in need of a place to worship, and they found their way to Isralite COGIC.
Isralite was in a transition and trying to rebuild, says Mother Maxine Billingsley, a faithful Victory Temple member and the Church of God and Christ’s International President of their Young Women’s Christian Council. What they thought was going to be a temporary arrangement has lasted two plus years.
Although the churches worship together, they operate as separate entities with their own pastors. “It was done very peacefully,” says Billingsley, and it’s helped both churches.
Victory’s leadership looked at the Hillside location before, but wasn’t sure it they could make it work. Finally with the help of Allen Gilkey, Bishop Mark Gilkey’s Brother and owner of AEG Construction, they were able to develop a renovation plan they felt comfortable with and purchased the building.
They began renovating the building this May.