ONTARIO — Sar Shalom Messianic Congregation has a new place to call home — the former United Auto Workers Local 549 union hall in Ontario.
According to Messianic Rabbi William Hallbrook, Sar Shalom acquired the union hall at 2510 W. Fourth St. in May and spent the subsequent months renovating the property.
“It was in pretty bad shape,” Hallbrook said. “We painted it — the outside and inside — renovated the bathrooms, just a lot of stuff inside.
“It’s not been gutted, but it has been redone.”
The congregation held its first service in the building, now dubbed “Sar Shalom Center,” on Saturday, July 21, drawing attendance from several members of the community, as well as local and out-of-town pastors.
“We had quite a few people there,” Hallbrook said. “It was a packed house.”
A need for additional space prompted the move from the congregation’s former location at 1650 S. Main St.
“About two years ago, we were out of room,” Hallbrook said. “We really didn’t have room for our functions for the community, and so we saw that (union hall) go up for sale and after quite a bit of back-and-forth bidding we finally got it.”
The congregation’s square footage has nearly quadrupled in size, going from 3,100 square feet on South Main Street to almost 12,000 square feet on West Fourth Street, according to Hallbrook.
Hallbrook said Sar Shalom still owns the South Main Street location, which is currently being used by a church, he said.
“There’s a possibility of selling it in the future,” he said.
Constructed in the 1960s, the UAW Hall is located across from the former General Motors plant. The union hall went up for sale in late 2015.
Hallbrook said Sar Shalom Center is available to rent for community events.
“We want to be a blessing to the community around us if somebody needs a facility,” he said.
“I know that there are facilities to rent in the Mansfield area, but they’re so expensive, and we want to be able to be a blessing to the community, as well.”
Hallbrook said the congregation’s response to the move has been positive.
“We’ve already seen new members coming in,” he said.
Sar Shalom Messianic Congregation is a group of Jews and Gentiles that believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah spoken of in Isaiah 7:14, according to the congregation’s website.
Services are held on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday evening services at 7 p.m. are currently on hiatus until mid-August, Hallbrook said.
“It’s open to the community and we do have a lot of people from various churches that like to come and check it out,” Hallbrook said. “We teach the Old Testament, as well as the New.”