Obi WanTwo brothers have opened a new kind of church in Spokane, Washington known as the Jedi Alliance.  The Church gets its name from the storied Star Wars franchise.  According to the brothers, Tim and Tyler Arnold, “[t]he Jedi belief structure is that Jediism will have you be a better person. Whatever your belief structure is can go hand in hand with what we’re doing.”

The Church, which is open to the public on Sunday evenings ($10 for adults and $5 for kids), is home to more than 140 arcade game cabinets and a gift shop with tons of comic book and science fiction and pop culture collectibles and toys.  Speaking of his motivation for their collection, brother Tyler said: “Like a call to arms, it said ‘Collect them all.’  It didn’t say ‘You can collect these all.’  It didn’t say ‘Please collect them all.’ It’s like it was informing me that that was my duty, like I was going to collect these.”

The Arnold brothers purchased the arcade games from a vendor who could no longer store them.  As one brother explained: “Well, we filled my basement. We filled my brother’s basement.  We filled my friend’s garage.  And then we started filling my brother’s shop and then we started filling his yard.  We got a city violation from the city of Shadle for that one.”  In search of a permanent location for the arcade games, the brothers set out to purchase some real estate.  To do so they sold one of their most prized possessions — a signed Johnny Ramone Mosrite guitar for $71,785.  Using the proceeds from the guitar sale, they purchased a former Free Methodist church building located at 2024 E. Boone Ave.”

The city said if you want to use that building for anything other than a house, it has to be a church, and we went ‘Yeah, we can make that work.’”  So, they registered as a church and have been using the property ever since.  “Is it a church? Well, it’s a church in the sense that we took over a church building.  Are we here congregating? Yes, we’re here congregating getting together,” Tyler explained.  “We can use all of this pop culture stuff to bring people together, to get people to have a reason to come together in a social setting,” said Tim.

As local news coverage put it, “where a pastor used to administer communion, a Jedi minister now guides his congregation in a game of Donkey Kong.”  Jedi Alliance’s Facebook page is available here.  Local coverage, including a news video and slideshow of Jedi Alliance, is available here.

*Photograph by Mark Rain, some rights reserved.