Stonegate Odessa bounces back

Stonegate Fellowship's associate minister Randy Unruh, left, children minister Kristine Busse, center left, the Rev. Gary Douglas, center, admin assistant Kara Brown, center right, and facility coordinator Michael Castello pose for a photo in front of photos of Bonham Junior High where the church first begin its ministry. (Jacob Ford | Odessa American)

Entering its sixth year as part of the local church community, Stonegate Fellowship Odessa was not slowed much by COVID-19 and it is averaging 300 to 325 people at its 9 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday services.

The Rev. Gary Douglas, executive pastor of the Odessa branch of Midland’s Stonegate Fellowship, serves with fellow Elder Jim Li and shares the preaching with the Rev. Randy Unruh and others to impart that “everyday people are transformed by the love of Jesus,” he said.

“Our values are unapologetically Biblical,” said the Rev. Douglas, a 1989 graduate of Permian High School who attended Odessa College and Lubbock Christian University and worked as a landman and oilfield service company owner before entering the ministry. He and his wife Jennifer have two children.

“Jesus heals the brokenness and gives hope for the lost,” Douglas said. “There are so many people out there going through pain and heartache and we want them to know they can find peace and compassion in Jesus. He compels me to show compassion as he shows compassion.”

Citing John 13:34-35, he said, “We just need to care for one another and love one another.”

Douglas said Stonegate Odessa closed when the pandemic hit last spring but reopened in June. “It was a blessing to be back in church and realize how much we missed it,” he said.

The church was established at Bonham Middle School in September 2015 and it raised $7 million to remodel the Graham Central Station nightclub building at 4240 Preston Smith Rd. and hold its first services there on July 30, 2017.

The Rev. David McReynolds, Stonegate’s pastor of operations, said then that the 35,000-square-foot building had cost $3 million and the renovations, audio, video and lighting $4 million. The designer was JSA Architects of Odessa and the general contractor Fehr’s Metal Building Construction of Seminole.

“It’s a big project, but it has been a lot of fun to work on,” McReynolds said. “It’s always fun when you’re converting a space from one thing to another. It’s such a prominent location in Odessa that we wanted to make sure we gave the city something to be proud of. It’s highly visible.”

Don Parks, an elder at Stonegate Fellowship in Midland, said Douglas “is a unique and amazing guy who loves Odessa.

“A church needs someone who loves the town and Gary does,” Parks said. “He has a heart for people and he does a real good job in the pulpit and in reaching out to other churches.”