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Journey Church's quest for a home coming to fruition

Dale Sharp

After five years spent worshipping as nomads, the members of Kingman's Journey Church are about to have a house of praise to call their own.

"We hope to be done by the end of summer or early fall," said Dr. Dale Sharp, lead pastor.

Sharp, who came to Journey Church on Jan. 1, said the church will seat 350 people with a nursery and Sunday school classrooms and cost between $750,000 and $800,00.

Sharp said the more than 270-member congregation raised much of the funding.

Additional financing will be required, he said.

"We're still looking at a couple of different ways to go on that," he said.

Last week, the Kingman City Council approved a conditional use permit to build the 16,000-square-foot church on six acres of land it already owns at 3792 Bank Street.

The government housekeeping measure paved the way for a groundbreaking in the next few weeks.

Currently, the church worships at 10 a.m. Sunday at White Cliffs Middle School. The facility is just the latest temporary home for the church founded five years ago by Pastor Mark Rice.

Rice left the church last fall in order to start another one in the Phoenix area.

"He told me there are three kinds of pastors," said Jon Shields, the associate pastor of Journey's Youth and Family Ministry. "Some pastors plant churches, some build (up) churches and some sustain churches.

"I'm a planter, and I think I have one more church left in me."

Sharp, by contrast, sees himself as someone who can both build and sustain a church.

For 12 years he was the senior pastor of Grace Bible Church in Helendale, Calif. There were about 40 members when he started in 2001. When he left in December, Sharp said more than 350 people had joined.

The Vietnam veteran and retired undercover narcotics detective earned his bachelor of science degree with twin majors in theology and psychology from Liberty University in 1990 while working the streets of Southern California with the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.

After retiring, Sharp in 1994 earned a master of arts degree in pastoral studies from the International School of Theology. He would later receive an honorary doctorate of divinity from California Christian University.

Not many former U.S. Navy River Rats and undercover drug cops turn to preaching, a juxtaposition Sharp recognizes.

"I had no problem walking into a bar and buying drugs," he said. "I was a Christian, but I had a job to do."

Sharp said he was involved in his share of big cases, and he said police work and preaching have a lot in common.

"They're both a battle of good versus evil," he said.

Sharp said the black and white, truth-seeking world that cops inhabit - where an act is either legal or it is illegal - never caused him to question his faith.

"Christianity is based on a belief in the resurrection," he said. "If I was a cop investigating the resurrection, I'd say this is impossible. But if I interviewed the 516 eyewitnesses to the resurrection, none of whom ever refuted their testimony; I'd have to say the resurrection was true. And if that's true, than everything is true."

Journey Church is affiliated with the Evangelical Churches of America, a group of about 1,400 churches nationwide, said Sharp.

The name Journey was chosen, said Shields, because "that's what the Christian walk is all about.

"This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon."

Sharp agrees.

"This concept of our walk with Christ is a very exciting life," said Sharp.

And studying the Gospel should not be a chore.

"The Bible should be fun," he said. "When we say everything in the Bible is true, it is incumbent on us to prove it."

Sharp sees great things ahead for his flock.

"They're very excited about the new church," he said. "After five years of being in a portable church, they're ready.

"This is going to be a lot of fun."


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