ODENVILLE — What began as a simple idea, has turned into something that could be a huge part of the community in St. Clair County.

Scott Ray, the founding pastor of Destiny Life Church — which began in Springville 11 years ago and is now located on U.S. 411 in Odenville — said the church purchased a former motorcycle repair shop across the street from the building last October. Since then, both the church and the surrounding community have been coming up with ways to make the building an asset to everyone.

“The main thing is, we want to love on our community in practical ways,” Ray said.

Those “practical ways” include a food pantry housed at the site, Internet access for those in need of it, and space for counseling, classes for community members and a place to host community events.

“Anything we can come up with that we can host free of charge,” said Ray. “We want to be a help to our community.”

The church will officially open the facility on May 18 with a ceremony that begins at 9 a.m. Recently the church hosted the “Run for Destiny,” a 5K event that welcomed around 70 participants, to benefit the new community center.

“We had a real desire to get our church moving,” Ray said. “My wife had started a small group that was doing ‘Couch to 5K’ and we have a Zumba class that meets here on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We were trying to raise money for the food pantry, and it just kind of evolved from that.”

Ray said he believed the event was the first 5K in Odenville, other than the recent St. Clair Scramble mud run.

“It was definitely the first certified course,” he said.

That run was part of the ongoing effort to prepare the center for community use. Ray said the former repair shop sat vacant for some time before the church purchased it.

“It was just horrible,” he said. “You could hardly stand in there at first because of the smell.”

Much has changed. Canned food is already on the shelves, much of it coming courtesy of some local participants in the Miss Heart of the USA competition.

“It was amazing,” Ray said. “We had just decided that was what we wanted to do, and a couple of days after that, we were contacted by that group. Their entry fee was non-perishable food items, and they were asking if they could use the building.”

Ray said the participants donated over 3,000 food items to the pantry.

“St. Clair County had fewer girls (in the pageant) than Jefferson County, but our girls brought in more food,” he said. “That showed us we were definitely on the right track.”

He added that some local businesses have already expressed interest in using the facility as a place to teach classes on topics such as home ownership, and filling out loan applications.

“It’s a facility for us as a church to try to reach and teach and help however we can,” Ray said.

Destiny Life Church is non-denominational and has around 140 members. The center is located next door to the church, and the food pantry will be open the third Saturday of each month. For more information call the church office at 205-629-0332.