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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2011

CedarCreek readies to open fourth church

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
CedarCreek Church under construction in the former Farmer Jack grocery store on Byrne Road in South Toledo. CedarCreek Church under construction in the former Farmer Jack grocery store on Byrne Road in South Toledo.
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Big numbers and big plans are in the air as the new South Toledo campus of CedarCreek Church takes shape.

Hammers banged, drills and saws buzzed, and classic rock blared as construction continued at a brisk pace Thursday afternoon during a media preview of the former Farmer Jack’s grocery store on Byrne Road, just south of Heatherdowns Boulevard.

The numbers involved in getting the megachurch’s fourth campus ready include:

$4 million in property and renovation costs;

46,000 square feet of usable space;

900 gallons of paint;

95,000 square feet of drywall;

2,500 anticipated attendance the first weekend.

Lee Powell, senior pastor, said everything is on schedule for the nondenominational Christian church’s fourth campus to open for services on Dec. 10 and 11.

Wearing a gray hard hat with blue stripes and a Dallas Cowboys star, Mr. Powell said the building was listed for a price of $4.4 million two years ago, but the church bought it for $1.7 million in May. The cost of transforming the grocery store into a worship facility will be more than $2 million, bringing the total investment to $4 million.

CedarCreek Church Campus Pastor Ben Snyder, left, and Senior Pastor Lee Powell, right, stand in the auditorium of their new church under construction in the former Farmer Jack grocery store on Byrne Road in South Toledo. CedarCreek Church Campus Pastor Ben Snyder, left, and Senior Pastor Lee Powell, right, stand in the auditorium of their new church under construction in the former Farmer Jack grocery store on Byrne Road in South Toledo.
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“It is exciting, but we can only handle one of these every two years,” Mr. Powell said.

CedarCreek Church held its first service in a rented hotel ballroom in October, 1995, with 180 people attending. With Bible-based sermons delivered in a contemporary fashion, and high-powered music that crosses genres, CedarCreek has rapidly grown into the largest church in northwest Ohio. Attendance totaled 8,600 last weekend at five services at three campuses — in Perrysburg Township, West Toledo, and Whitehouse.

With the addition of South Toledo, Mr. Powell said attendance is expected to average more than 9,000 per weekend next year.

The new facility will seat 700 in the main sanctuary, and a secure children’s area is expected to accommodate more than 120 children per service.

The additional seating at the new campus allows CedarCreek to cut back on the number of services, trimming it from five to four per weekend — one on Saturday instead of two, and three on Sunday.

Sermons are preached at the 1,400-seat main campus in Perrysburg and broadcast live by satellite to the other sites. Each location has its own campus pastor and team of musicians, as well as an army of about 300 volunteers per weekend.

Ben Snyder, campus pastor for South Toledo, has lived in the area since marrying Lauren Perry, a Bowsher High School graduate, 10 years ago. He was named South Toledo campus pastor more than two years ago when CedarCreek had plans to move into a closed YMCA building, but those plans were shelved after heated protests by neighbors over the closing of the Y. CedarCreek promptly bowed out of the project as the controversy heated up, and the Y eventually was razed.

Now that the long-delayed plans for a South Toledo campus are near fruition, Mr. Snyder is ready to roll.

“Can’t wait, can’t wait,” he said quietly. “We are really excited to be part of the community here and doing what we love to do with CedarCreek.”

Mr. Powell said the church has already plugged into the local community, helping Vision Ministries on Broadway serve 1,500 meals a month to needy families, for example.

“We can’t solve all of the world’s or all of the community’s problems, but we can make a difference one outreach at a time,” he said.

Mr. Snyder has met with pastors of several nearby churches, and said CedarCreek’s goal is to attract people who don’t attend church.

“We are not interested in drawing people who already are plugged into a local church and know Jesus and why he came,” he said.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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