Hope House Church in Jasper recently celebrated its fifth anniversary as a church.
The church's first Sunday, March 3, 2013, was spent in the Walker High School auditorium. Hope House spent the next two years worshipping in the auditorium before moving to its current location on Elliott Boulevard.
Prior to the church's first Sunday in the auditorium, Pastor Thomas Martin said the decision to hold services in a building other than a traditional church was easy.
"It's not a church building, and that alone might make people more comfortable," he said in 2013. "Hope House will be a very laid back atmosphere. ... We want to be here for anyone."
In an interview earlier this week, Martin said that he and the other members wanted to have a "life-giving" church.
"I think we sort of have a unique culture at Hope House," Martin said. "God always laid on my heart that he wanted us to be a church that spent as much time focusing on the people who are yet to come to Christ as we do to people who are sitting in the pews."
He added that the church has attracted people that have a heart for the hurting, homeless and hungry in the area.
"Almost everything we do community outreach-wise is in relation to food," Martin said. "We have a soup kitchen every Monday where we collaborate with (Jasper') First Baptist Church and feed people there. Every Wednesday night, we feed close to 100 people that come in from the community."
Once a month, Hope House also makes around 140 meals and delivers them to low-income senior citizens in the community.
As far as instances in the church's history that stand out to him, Martin cited the over 200 people that have made professions of faith and over 100 people who have been baptized.
He also noted to decision to purchase a food truck that has allowed them to serve meals in the community. The Loaves and Fish Food Truck provides hot, healthy meals to local residents in need. In late 2015, the Loaves and Fish Food Truck was featured in a segment on "The 700 Club."
Martin said that in 2017, the soup kitchen served over 12,000 meals to people in the community.
Moving into their own building was another huge step for the church. Martin described it as a "really huge deal" for a church as new as Hope House was at the time to be able to secure a loan from the bank and purchase their own building.
Today, Hope House is holding a day of celebration for church members and overseers to discuss the church's plans for the future. State Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, Jasper Mayor David O'Mary and other city officials are also expected to be in attendance, according to Martin.
"They're going to celebrate the five years," explained Martin, "as well as do some 'vision casting' for things that we want to do and that we're going to do."
Among other future projects, Hope House will be building out its soup kitchen to better provide for Walker County by offering more meals and more times to serve people.
Martin added that the church will also be more evangelistic "than we've ever been before" moving forward.
Hope House holds its services at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings and offers a soup kitchen at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, with services following at 6:15 p.m.