Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Megachurches still growing, buying up property

Christ Church finds itself in step with other rapidly growing congregations known as megachurches that need space to expand. They are buying unlikely places like large food stores, shopping centers, armories and, in the case of Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles, the former Great Western Forum where the Lakers and the Kings basketball teams played until 1999. As defined by John N. Vaughan, a researcher, megachurches, which are largely conservative Protestant, are as those that attract at least 2,000 worshipers a week.In New Jersey, one such church, Faith Fellowship Ministries World Outreach Center, a charismatic congregation of 3,600 families, began moving from Edison in 1996 and built a 2,900-seat sanctuary on a 14-acre site in Sayreville that was once used by Public Service Electric and Gas Company as a training center.

The proposed Christ Church campus on Green Pond Road here would house administrative offices, an elementary school, a gymnasium and fitness center, a banquet hall, a small religious museum, a gift shop, a school of performing arts, a computer learning center, a center for adult leadership development courses and a community development corporation that is using a $120,000 grant from President Bush's faith initiative program for a program to help teenagers be sexually abstinent. The new sanctuary would feature stadium seating, and the gym and fitness center, baseball and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts would be open to the community, Dr. Ireland said.