Fourteen years ago, as he was delivering groceries for Scolari’s Food and Drug Co. and traveling over Donner Pass, he was struck and by another driver after dark in the middle of a snowstorm. The collision left him stranded for three hours while his stomach acid ate away at a ruptured lung.
Though he began throwing groceries onto the freeway as a call for help, nobody stopped until midnight when a man, who looked like he might help, robbed him and left him at the scene of the accident, 500 yards away from a rest stop. The police finally came and arranged to have him driven over the mountain to a hospital.
“I got laid up in a hospital for eight months on life support,” Hurt said. “I wasn’t supposed to live, so everybody prayed for me.”
Recently, he found out his wife has terminal cancer, so his prayers have turned to the healing of her disease. Faith has long been the essence of his life.
So it is, too, of Spirit Filled Church, to which Hurt and his wife belong. The congregation has grown from a small gathering in a homeowner’s garage to a 15,000-square-foot church with a separate youth sanctuary to accommodate growth, the Church of Jesus Christ Spirit Filled has come a long way from its inception to a house of worship.
To commemorate its successes within the last year and a half and its approaching first anniversary of its new facility, Spirit Filled hosted an open house for the community on Sunday that offered a visitors day to let the community get a peek at what the church is doing now.
“I’d been here in Carson City since (my family) moved out here from Oklahoma, but in 1990, it seemed God called us to begin this church … but with a little bit of a different emphasis,” Pastor Roger Canary said. “Same God, same Bible, same Word, but we want to emphasize more than I was exposed to,” including stronger family relationships and more vocal praise.
Canary, a former insurance agent who sold his business to preach from the pulpit, has a leadership style that has attracted many young people of the community and led the church to begin expansion of its latest facility at 3175 Goldy Way, the groundbreaking of which took place last year. The current site is the result of the church’s beginning as a six-person congregation in May 1990 in a residential garage to several moves within Sparks along Pyramid Way and Oddie Boulevard over the years, the latter of which was an investment of nearly $500,000.
Canary said the congregation began seeking out its current location after their lease at the Oddie location ended and had no desire to stay there. They looked at the Holy Cross Catholic Church as a suitable site.
“We began looking again and found this Catholic church here, but the Catholics didn’t want to sell it, they wanted to lease it. But we didn’t want to lease it because of the bad experience we had the last time.”
The small building seated 300, but it quickly became packed, hence the newer, bigger building.
“We’re not a two-service church,” Canary said. “We don’t want to get people in and out in 45 minutes.”
The expansion gave Spirit Filled a chance to give itself a facelift and enhance its site. Canary said the work was done by its own members, including all the concrete work and painting. He said they also received certain landscaping at “rock bottom” prices.
“It’s not a fancy building but it’s a beautiful building,” he said. “It’s low-budget with sound, carpet and all brand new seats for less than $60 a foot. That’s unheard of.”
The church has a mortgage of $2.5 million and the new building cost $1.5 million.
“It’s still a lot of money and still a big payment,” Canary said. “But we have low overhead. I have one full-time associate pastor and I took a huge cut in pay from the insurance company. … By the grace of God, we make the payment. The economic turndown, it’s affected us. We’ll get through it. … But the bills are paid. We thank God for that.”
The pastor said he has faith that the payments will be made and that his church will continue to grow. Spirit Filled has an exuberant worship style and emphasizes prayer and people, an approach that calls to many people, Canary said.
“The guys tell me they like the way I preach because I’m not here as a theologian, but I’m here as a working man that believes God will change your life,” he said.
Part of that working-man approach has been the development of the church at several different locations over the years.
It’s also touched people like Hurt, who enjoys the intergenerational relationships the church has encouraged.
“We’ve helped a lot of young guys here who want their families to be brought up here,” Hurt said. “That’s how we’ve become so tight with each other.”
Canary said they wanted to host the open house to let the community know that it’s there.
“We did one opening, but just wanted to do it again because we’ve been here long enough now to just let people know,” he said. “We’ve got about 500,000 people in northern Nevada and want to get the exposure out.”