Hi. We’re The Gathering, and we’re from Newton, Kansas. We were born in the heart of Newton and we’re passionate about seeing our city come to life like never before. We say it this way: Newton Reborn.
In February 2015, as a young, small but growing church, we became the proud owners of The Fox Theatre in downtown Newton. It was literally a dream come true. In fact, it was nothing short of a miracle. Against what seemed like insurmountable odds, we were able to purchase The Fox Theatre and the building next door (which wasn’t even for sale at the time).
Now, we know what some of you may be thinking (especially if you’re at all familiar with Newton and The Fox Theatre): “WHAT?! How could they let The Fox become a church?!”
Well, rest assured. We totally get it. We LOVE The Fox Theatre as a theater too! Like many Newtonians, we have fond memories of growing up at The Fox: the thrill of movie posters and previews, the incredible smell of fresh, hot, buttered popcorn, the feel of a sticky, sugar-coated floor, and seeing our first PG-13 movie. Some of us had our first dates at The Fox; our first kiss too!
That’s why we don’t want it to become a church building either. It’s never been our desire to see The Fox Theatre become a traditional church. In fact, our vision has always been to see The Fox reborn so that it can thrive as the theatre it was meant to be, and then some. We just happen to be the lucky church that gets to gather there on Sunday mornings. At The Gathering, we know The Fox has been entrusted to our care, but it’s not about us. We believe a revived, rebuilt and renewed Fox Theatre will inspire, fuel and cultivate more life and growth for the people of Newton and the city itself.
We see The Fox as a hub for Newton Reborn, a gathering place for our entire town to enjoy; a place where people can gather to be refreshed, have fun, and entertained but also enriched, inspired and renewed. We see The Fox as a dream factory for our city; a place where new ideas, new visions, and new leaders are discovered and developed. We want The Fox to be experienced as an exciting, welcoming place by everyone who comes through the doors. We see The Fox as providing an excellent environment for every kind of meeting, training, or event for teachers, city employees, fire fighters, police, church leaders, teams and clubs, moms and dads, children ... you get the idea!
We want to bring movies back to The Fox. Imagine movies playing at The Fox in the heart of downtown Newton every Thursday and Friday night. We’ve got plans for a fully-functioning soda bar upstairs above the lobby and a play area for kids just off the lobby.
We see movie nights, summer movies for moms and kids, concerts, plays, parades, celebrations, weddings, meals, incredible coffee, delicious soda, free Wi-Fi, rich conversations, and meaningful life moments. We see life happening at the Fox! We actually see a renewed, thriving Fox Theatre inspiring a much needed economic boost in downtown Newton.
In the years prior to our purchasing The Fox, other wonderful and passionate Newtonians led efforts to revitalize the theatre after it closed in 1999. We’re grateful for their hard work. In many ways, The Fox had been deteriorating for years, and as Newtonians, we owe those groups of people a debt of gratitude for ensuring that The Fox didn’t become a parking lot.
We’re thrilled to carry the mantle now. Beginning in 2015, with a small budget made up of sacrificial gifts from Newtonians who call The Gathering ‘home,’ we were able to begin making the theatre livable again. The bleak ticket booth received a make-over, the make-shift snack bar was overhauled, comfy temporary chairs were purchased, a deck for high-tables was constructed in the back of the auditorium, and fresh sheetrock now covers the bowed, cracked and crumbling plaster walls.
But we’re not done by a long-shot.
We’ve hired a talented architect and have begun the process of bringing the vision to life. In addition to schematic drawings, we’ve produced beautiful architectural renderings of a revived, rebuilt and renewed Fox. The vision is simple: to see The Fox Theatre thriving like never before. Two buildings becoming one, including an excellent state of the art theatre for an entire town to enjoy and utilize all week long, with plenty of space for a church to meet and grow in as well.
So how do we pull this off? We start with what many of us have in common: our love for Newton and a love for people who love Newton. Together, we all (Newtonians near and far, our friends and families, church folks and church skeptics, and everyone who cares about us) want to see our city thrive. We believe The Fox Theatre is the next strategic part of our town that needs to be reborn. It’s a landmark in Newton, an iconic, cherished and beloved building in the center of our downtown. We believe a renewed Fox Theatre will inspire, fuel and cultivate even more life, more growth, more opportunities, and an economic boost to the heart of our city, or, as we say, more Newton Reborn.
We are currently moving toward launching a Newton Reborn crowd-funding campaign where all of us can join together to raise the funds needed to see The Fox Theatre reborn … ultimately, so that The Fox can be enjoyed once again and used to fuel even more Newton Reborn.
Momentum is building and anticipation is growing. Join the movement and let’s do this together! Opportunities to participate directly are coming soon. Sign up to receive all things Fox and Newton Reborn in your inbox. Invite your family and friends along for the ride by sharing this with them.
Together, let’s see Newton Reborn.