The elegant stage with its blue curtain, red and gold trim, spotlights, speakers and wood flooring is awe-inspiring. 

It catches one’s eyes as soon as they walk into the fully restored Trost & Trost historic theater in Downtown El Paso that is about to become an  Abundant Church on Sunday.

“This is exactly what we wanted. The goal was to make it feel like you were back in the original theater, but with modern technology,” said Jared Nieman, lead pastor at Abundant Church while giving a tour of the historic Alhambra Theater next to the Camino Real Hotel on South El Paso Street. His father, Abundant founder and Senior Pastor Charles Nieman, was part of the tour. “It’s been a detailed process.”

Abundant Church, which has an Eastside and Westside location, will open its third house of worship at 209 S. El Paso St. on Sunday. The first service is at 9:30 a.m., followed by another at 11:30 a.m.

A balcony support at the historic Alhambra Theater shows the decorative details that Abundant Church has restored as they worked to convert the 1914 building into their new church. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Charles Nieman will preside over this Sunday’s services at the new church. Prior to the opening, he spoke with El Paso Matters about the new church. 

El Paso Matters: Are you ready for Sunday?

Nieman: It’s been a journey since we bought the building. We bought it in 2019 and then COVID hit and everything had to stop. Construction started again in 2021. So here we are. The church will seat about 500 people, 325 on the first floor and 170 on the balcony. When we got here the floor was warped, most of the unique designs were covered with Sheetrock and you couldn’t see the beauty of the building. Now it looks amazing. We are all excited.”

The Nieman family calls the former stage one of their favorite parts of the restoration they carried out in Alhambra Theater to convert it into a new Abundant Church site. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

El Paso Matters: There are several vacant buildings in Downtown El Paso, why did you choose this one? 

Nieman: For one, it has always been a theater, therefore it would seem  reasonable to use it as a church. Once we came to see it, we saw the possibilities. The balcony floor is on an incline, so we didn’t have to do much there other than restore the floor. It has great seating. And we loved that it was on El Paso Street, right in the center of our city, right where it all started.

El Paso Matters: Abundant could have built its third church anywhere in El Paso, why Downtown?

Nieman: We had our eye on expanding for years. We are on the far Eastside and the far Westside, so Downtown is next. We love being a part of the revitalization of Downtown. I’m a third generation El Pasoan, this is my city. My kids are fourth generation and my grandkids are fifth. That is not as long as other El Paso families, but this is our home. We take pride in our city and in Downtown. We want to see Downtown revitalized, so if we can be a part of that, we will.

El Paso Matters: How many people do you expect on Sunday?

Nieman: I hope both services are full. But we are not sure what to expect. A lot of people in this community know us. A lot of our members grew up around Downtown and often come here. That is our hope. But whenever you open a new church you never know what the response will be. We are going to come in here and build the membership. We are not here temporarily. We are here for the duration. We started out as a home Bible study group 47 years ago with only 12 members. Now we have more than 25,000 members. So I don’t know what to expect on Sunday, but I do know that we will build this church. 

A view from the balcony at the Alhambra Theater shows the renovated space, which has been converted into a church that will hold about 500 people. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

El Paso Matters: Abundant leaders have said they want the church to contribute to the revitalization of Downtown, can you give specifics.

Nieman: The goal, as we see the new hotels, the Plaza Theatre and the new businesses, is to be a part of that by helping revitalize a building and by getting people here. We will have events here to bring people Downtown. We have a men’s conference coming up in two weeks that will bring 500 people to Downtown. We will also have a marriage conference here. We hope that people will look at this church as the crown jewel of El Paso and come to Downtown. Our base is young, 20- to 30-year-olds who we know are looking forward to coming Downtown.