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Published: Saturday, 2/12/2005

Booming church adds more space

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
CedarCreek Church, which had 7,300 people at its five Christmas services, is adding a chapel and other facilities. CedarCreek Church, which had 7,300 people at its five Christmas services, is adding a chapel and other facilities.
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The two holiest and busiest seasons of the year for Christian churches are Christmas and Easter, when holiday observances draw throngs of people who normally don't set foot inside a church.

In December, CedarCreek Church in Perrysburg Township discovered that the holidays posed a problem for the fast-growing church: space.

Despite holding five services attended by a total of 7,300 people, CedarCreek could not accommodate the holiday crowds.

"We had to turn about 300 people away at the first service," said the Rev. Tom Polker, pastor of facilities and construction. "We were completely full."

But church officials are working hard to address that problem, striving to complete a $5 million, 30,000-foot addition in time for Easter weekend, March 26 and 27.

The new addition will include a 320-seat chapel, a spacious atrium,a cafe with tables and seating for 200, an elevator, 4,500 square feet of space for preschoolers, and a 1,500-square-foot bookstore that will be open to the public during the week, Pastor Polker said.

The chapel will be used for weddings, funerals, Bible studies, and group meetings, as well as providing an overflow area when the 1,440-seat auditorium is full.

The services in the auditorium will be shown live on video in the chapel. "It will be just like the main service, except it will be all on video," Pastor Polker said. "And anyone who has been to our church knows that you're watching the video screens most of the time anyway."

CedarCreek started with 25 people in 1994, led by the Rev. Lee Powell and the Rev. Steve Korn (now a pastor at NorthPoint Church in West Toledo).

From 1997 through August, 2002, services were held in Perrysburg Junior High until the church moved to its present 40-acre location on Lime City Road.

The nondenominational, "seeker-sensitive" church, a member of the Willow Creek Association, tries to avoid stodgy stereotypes without compromising its gospel message.

At CedarCreek, churchgoers can grab a cup of gourmet coffee or hot cocoa in the lobby and take it into the main auditorium, where each seat has its own cup holder. The worship band is loud, contemporary, and upbeat, and the pastors forgo suits and ties for what they call "smart casual" attire.

The original $6 million Perrysburg Township church was designed to look like a movie multiplex, and Pastor Powell said at the time that he hoped to outgrow the church in five years - a hope that came true sooner than expected.

The church's rapid growth has caused some problems in the transition times between services, as 1,400 people entering the building and the same number of people leaving the services create a traffic jam in the lobby.

"Now there will be two places for people to enter into the church rather than the current one," Pastor Polker said. "During the holidays and special events, it becomes an obstacle. People don't like to be squeezed into tight spaces, so this will be nice for traffic flow. It will create an environment that says, 'Hey, it's OK to hang out with us for awhile.'‚óŹ"

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com or

419-724-6154.



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