White River Christian Church pastor Andrew Smiley shows off Remnant, the church’s new coffee house and community center in Arcadia.
The Times photos by Betsy Reason
White River Christian Church pastor Andrew Smiley shows off Remnant, the church’s new coffee house and community center in Arcadia. The Times photos by Betsy Reason
White River Christian Church has opened a coffee shop and community center in downtown Arcadia.
Remnant is the name of the new venue, which is located in the space formerly occupied by Hedgehog Music Showcase and the adjacent AJ Witham Sign Production shop. Both spaces have been remodeled and transformed into one amazing space.
Remnant, which opened on Friday, is a dream come true for the Noblesville-based church, which has been growing its membership in multiple geographic locations, particularly Hamilton North, where about 150 worshipers had been gathering each Sunday at its first offsite location, Hamilton Heights High School Auditorium since September 2017.
In fall 2019, the church was “ready to start looking at what was next,” said Andrew Smiley, the WRCC’s Hamilton North pastor and executive pastor for locations, whose staff before that had been pulling trailers and setting up for worship every Sunday at HHHS.
When the church’s search began for a permanent location for ministry, worship and service to the community in Hamilton North, WRCC learned that Hedgehog owners Bob and Kathy Foster/Foster Historic Properties had considered selling the Hedgehog live music venue, which opened in 2006 and attracted nationally known performers including the late Leon Redbone.
“After praying and examining the opportunities (including an old church in Arcadia), we were put in direct contact with the owners of the Hedgehog and started a dialogue,” he said. 
“We began to dream about what we would do in the heart of Arcadia,” Smiley said.
The church purchased Fosters’ property and also purchased the next-door property from Anthony and Paula Witham with the transfer of ownership on Oct. 9-10, 2019.
“The vision and ideas kind of flowed from there. What if we opened a coffee shop that was open every day of the week for the community to come, for kids to come after school in this community?” He said, “Some kids don’t have the internet to do projects. This is an open space for the community to use, conference rooms, stuff for kids to do and a place to come after school on winter days, to play upstairs. We really want to partner with the community.”
The nearly $1 million project has been fairly extensive as the church combined the two separate adjoining buildings to create one unified facility. “It was truly a remarkable transformation that words can’t really do it justice,” he said. “The building team was extremely talented with a creative aesthetic that has brought the old space to life.”
Main Architects in Sheridan did the architectural design. Noblesville’s Todd Yeager, an elder at WRCC, was the general contractor and did the remodeling.  Reliable Fab and Manufacturing in Noblesville did a lot of the steel work. “There were a lot of people who Todd had talked to who either donated their labor or donated products,” Smiley said. “A lot of people got on board with the vision of the project and the space. It is really cool to see people from the church helping, doing things.”
The center features a large coffee shop, a huge seating area with tables and chairs, gathering space with electric fireplace, niche to find board games, exposed brick (in the former Hedgehog space) in a large multi-use gathering space with stage area for worship and weekend events, large sliding barn doors, new restrooms, a patio out back, and an elevator to the second floor, where there are conference room and a “Play” space for a children’s ministry. There is also a sensory-friendly space, with overhead garage door, for special needs children featuring six sensory-board paintings created by 12-year-old Cicero resident Polly Thompson, who helps with the children’s ministry.
“Our main goal is for people to feel like it’s theirs, not the church’s,” said Smiley, who led a tour of the new space that was bustling with folks attending Friday’s open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony with live music, including former Hedgehog owner Bob Foster.
“We want to give this back to the community as a gift to be used,” Smiley said.?While WRCC has financially backed the project, the church hasn’t put its name on the center, which will be available to the public to rent for meetings, events and family gatherings. He’s hoping that the center will remove barriers to those who might not otherwise go to a church. Already during the open house, he met people who came in for coffee who might not otherwise come to WRCC on Sunday mornings. 
“In addition to starting a local coffee shop, we plan to ‘give it away’ to the community as a space for locals to enjoy and use as a space to meet, gather, and take advantage of free WiFi,” he reiterated.?WRCC will have its first Hamilton North church service at Remnant at 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday, with a family service for young children at 6:30 p.m. June 25.
“Our desire is to gather there for worship services and other ministry activities, but we wanted to create a place the entire community felt welcome to come, join, and use,” Smiley said. “We believe that by opening a coffee shop, people of all ages and backgrounds will feel welcome and inspired when they enter. We want it to be a center, or hub, for the community.” 
Smiley said WRCC has four distinct locations that meet at two physical campuses. “WRCC started in Noblesville in the 1970s and grew steadily,” he said. As a church, WRCC has about 2,500 attendees across all locations in a given week. In addition to the church’s original congregation, WRCC has added an Hispanic location (meeting in Noblesville), a Cafe (meeting in the WRCC gymnasium in Noblesville), and most recently the Hamilton North location, which will now meet at Remnant coffee shop.
Smiley said, “We don't do too much advertising, rather we hope to serve and love the communities God has placed us and let our actions speak to the surrounding community.”
Before the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic, the Hamilton North congregation had been growing steady. “It has certainly been a challenge to pivot as a church and adapt to the new realities,” Smiley said. “We have been thankful that families have had opportunities to worship all together -- kids and parents --  right in their own living rooms (thanks to WRCC’s virtual church services). This has brought faith conversations home in a new way, and placed the sharing of faith directly in the hands of parents. That is always our goal, and we have heard many stories of how these changes have forced this positive reality, which is always our goal.”
During this pandemic, one of the focuses has been on completing the Remnant project in Arcadia as the church has pivoted to meeting increased community needs through its food pantry in Noblesville.
“During this crisis, we want to meet community needs in a time when many have lost jobs. We paused and reduced spending in all areas so we could meet tangible community needs. We continued the project in Arcadia as it was partially completed in March (when the pandemic hit).”?Smiley said the Hamilton North location was going to have to find a new gathering place anyway, due to construction at Hamilton Heights High School that started June 1. So timing was perfect.
Smiley grew up in Noblesville attending WRCC as a child all the way through graduating from Noblesville High School in 2003. His family continued to stay involved and active and has been for 30 years now. He is a 2007 graduate of Taylor University, where he met his wife, Catie. They have two sons, Ethan and Henry, and live in Cicero. After graduating from Taylor, he spent time in ministry in Muncie, and Lake Zurich, Ill., and Paddock Lake, Wis., serving in various roles in the life of those churches.
Smiley returned to Noblesville to serve at WRCC in 2017 to launch the Hamilton North location. His role at the church is to lead the Hamilton North location as well as lead and direct multi-site strategy.?He said, “It has been a true joy and pleasure to come home.” 

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.