Expansion, growth, and change are in the air for Toledo's religious congregations with the dawn of a new century and millennium.
The booming economy has been fruitful not only for businesses in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, it seems, but for faith-based organizations. Structural and relational changes also are a part of the picture as groups shift both from within and in their connections to one another.
Among the physical changes on the horizon for the new year are construction of new churches for Faith Tabernacle Church of God in Northwood, which has been meeting at the Woodville Mall; Heritage Church of God, formerly North Cove Church of God, which is about to open a new facility in Monclova Township, and St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, which has been meeting at St. Elias Antiochian Church in Sylvania and is planning a new structure in Monclova Township near St. Luke's Hospital.
Faith Tabernacle broke ground in November for a 280-seat sanctuary, expected to cost about $478,000. The building at 6100 Wales Rd. also will contain Sunday school classrooms and offices and is part of a two-phase building program.
Heritage Church of God, which left West Toledo for suburban Monclova, expects its new $2 million building to be completed by March 1 with the first service scheduled for March 5. In addition to a 500-seat sanctuary, the single-story building will house a day-care center and gymnasium.
St. George, made up of about 15 Coptic Orthodox families, hopes to build a $350,000 domed structure for worship services and meetings on Monclova-Waterville Road in Monclova Township beginning in the spring or summer.
Also planning construction of a new worship facility on Lime City Road this year or next is Rossford's All Saints Parish, which has sold its Dixie Highway buildings to the Rossford school district, and is planning to sell the Maple Street church building.
Other churches with expansion plans on the drawing boards include Cornerstone Church, a nondenominational Pentecostal congregation in Maumee, which hopes to enlarge its present quarters in the Maumee Marketplace shopping center to provide more space for its children's ministry and a new, larger sanctuary. Plans for the site include some new construction, said Marcia Culp, media coordinator for the church.
Church projects completed in late 1999 and early 2000 include new structures for New Creation Lutheran in Ottawa, O., and Parkview Church of Christ in Findlay.
New Creation plans to dedicate a new 6,800-square-foot, $700,000 building on East Main Street (U.S. 224) Feb. 13. The facility was built with the aid of Mission Builders, an organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Parkview Church dedicated its striking new 40,000-square-foot building at State Rt. 12 and Hancock County Road 236 in November. The structure was appraised at $3.3 million, but cost $2.4 million because of volunteer labor and donated materials.
Renovation projects completed late in 1999 included a $75,000 refurbishing of Good Shepherd Catholic Church, at Clark and Nevada streets, in East Toledo, necessitated by falling plaster at last year's Easter vigil service, and a $750,000 renovation of St. Ann Church in Fremont.
The Good Shepherd project involved restoration of the artwork on the church ceiling and was nearly finished in time for the church's Christmas celebration at the end of 1999.
St. Ann, the home church of Toledo Bishop James Hoffman, was rededicated in November, five weeks before Christmas. The interior and exterior work included restoration of eight ceiling paintings and addition of a new altar and ambo. As part of the renovation, three stained-glass windows that had been covered in the 1930s, were uncovered and are now visible from the inside of the church at State Street and Rawson Avenue.
Churches planning or completing major additions for this year include Calvary Bible Chapel, 3740 West Alexis Rd.; Mount Nebo Baptist, 831 North Detroit Ave., and Lemoyne Baptist, State Rt. 163 and Bradner Road.
Calvary Bible hopes to break ground in the fall or spring for a $1.4 million Family Life Center that will include a day-care center, gymnasium, and senior center.
Shirley Mowery, business administrator of the church, said plans call for facilities that will enable the church to build a sports ministry and athletic program for neighborhood youth, offer classes to strengthen families, and provide a place for senior citizens to go for lunch, supervised care, and activities.
Mount Nebo recently dedicated a new single-story education building with two classrooms, kitchen facilities, and a large dining hall. The $279,846 structure is attached to the church and contains 3,200 square feet.
Lemoyne Baptist is nearing completion of an 8,400-square-foot multipurpose facility that will include classrooms, nurseries, and a meeting area that eventually will house worship services.
The Rev. Ronald Shinkle, pastor, said the assistance of Baptist Missionary Builders will enable the church to build what would have been a $1 million project for under $300,000, enabling the church to remain debt-free.
Completion of the structure is expected sometime in May.
Among churches beginning expansion plans in 2000 is Cedar Creek, a new congregation that has been meeting in Perrysburg Junior High School.
The church currently is in negotiations for a 19-acre building site in Perrysburg Township where it hopes to build in the next two to three years. Total cost of the project is estimated at $3.5 million.
Cedar Creek, which designs its services to appeal to unchurched people, now holds three worship services each weekend, two on Sunday and one on Saturday, and will be expanding to four services March 25.
Cathedral of Praise in Sylvania has had to put construction plans for 2000 on hold and instead recently erected a dome on its property to house the church's growing youth ministry. The church held New Year's Eve activities in the facility, which is called The Dome.
Other plans by area churches for 2000 include a second Convoy of Hope, a giant evangelization effort designed to bring food, fun, and faith to people in need. The first local convoy was held in June in Gunckel Park and drew 3,200 people who received nearly 35,000 pounds of food. More than 90 churches and 960 volunteers helped with the effort.
Plans for 2000 in Toledo's Jewish community include construction of a Mitzvah Wall made up of bricks representing good deeds. Sponsored by Chabad House, the wall is part of a campaign to encourage five million Jews to perform more deeds of kindness.
The area's Muslim community hopes to begin plans in 2000 to open a full-time Islamic school for grades 1 to 3 in 2001 at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg.
A major move realized in 1999 and celebrated locally in 2000 was the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by representatives of some Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic church in Augsburg, Germany, in October. The milestone recently was observed in Findlay by members of the Toledo Catholic Diocese and the Northwestern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with a service of thanksgiving.
At the service, participants read from the joint declaration and said together, "We confess, by grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit," reflecting the essence of the document.
Representatives of both churches have said they are committed to continued study of the doctrine of justification and to seeking further common understanding of it.