For more than two years, staff and volunteers at CedarCreek Church s Whitehouse campus have spent countless hours carrying, setting it up, taking down, and storing the sound, lighting, and other equipment used for its services in Anthony Wayne High School.
Those weekend chores will become a thing of the past when the church moves into a permanent home at its Whitehouse campus next year.
CedarCreek announced that it has purchased a nine-acre parcel on State Rt. 64, just north of Finzel Road, where it will break ground on a 25,000-square-foot church this summer.
The Whitehouse campus will be the anchor tenant of a 160-acre, $150-million retail and residential development being built by JCT Enterprises, Inc.
While most retail developments are anchored by department stores, JCT s Whitehouse Square will have a radically different look.
Ray Wood, project manager for JCT, said CedarCreek s size the total attendance at its three locations averages 8,000 and a full schedule of activities throughout the week make the church a perfect fit for the new development.
We re doing something totally different than anything else that has been done in northwest Ohio, he said. We re trying to keep a small-town feel in Whitehouse, and make the development a destination and a place for entertainment.
He said the number of members and visitors heading for CedarCreek for weekend services and weekday events should help give a boost to the artisans and local businesses he is lining up for the development. The church also plans to tie in with senior programs and youth activities to be held in Whitehouse Square s facilities, he said.
All these things kind of knit together, Mr. Wood said.
The Rev. Lee Powell, CedarCreek s senior pastor, said the nondenominational Christian church plans to move into the new building sometime next summer.
Founded in 1994, CedarCreek opened its main, $6 million church in Perrysburg Township in August, 2002, and added a satellite campus in Whitehouse on Easter weekend, 2006.
A second satellite campus opened in March in a Toledo shopping center at Sylvania Avenue and Douglas Road. That church, after just three months, is averaging about 1,600 per weekend and should hit 2,000 this fall, Mr. Powell said
Both satellite campuses feature live music and worship, a lead pastor at the site, and staff and volunteers providing personal ministry for worshippers. Sermons are shown either by video or live Internet feed from the services at the Perrysburg Township campus.
Having a permanent facility in Whitehouse will make it easier for the seeker-sensitive megachurch to be itself, Mr. Powell said.
Seeker-sensitive churches aim to appeal to people who don t normally go to church. The architecture of the Perrysburg building, for example, was designed to look like a movie theater complex, and free coffee, hot chocolate, and soda pop are available in the lobby.
When we re-duplicate our DNA, so to speak, it s hard to do that in a school building, Mr. Powell said. We tried. We haven t done it to our satisfaction.
One example he cited is that Ohio law limits live video streaming via the Internet into public school buildings, which is how the sermons are shown at the Toledo campus.
The Sunday morning services in Whitehouse feature sermons taped at the Perrysburg campus on Saturday evening.
Plans call for the new Whitehouse building to have a sanctuary that seats between 450 and 600. Attendance has been averaging between 400 and 500, Mr. Powell said, but that figure is expected to jump once the church has a permanent facility in Whitehouse.
We expect attendance in the new building in a very short period of time to double, to between 800 and 1,000, he said.
More information is available online at www.cedarcreek.tv or by calling 419-661-8661.