BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Waterville Community Church is on the move for 2024.
The 26-year-old nondenominational church, located at the corner of Dutch and Waterville-Monclova roads in Water-ville Township, is undergoing an expansion and renovation that will take most of the year and require vacating the building.
“When the service is over on February 25, we’re moving,” said Rev. Michael O’Shea.
For the past few months, volunteers have been putting up walls, soundproofing and getting the former Maxx Fitness at The Shops at Fallen Timbers ready to serve as a temporary church until the project is finished around the end of the year.
Named “Be Here,” the project was prompted by a need to replace the church’s roof and HVAC systems.
“We hit a moment. The people are ready. The church is ready. It makes good sense,” O’Shea said.
Small groups gathered to identify needs and share those with BGW Architects, which created renderings within a few days. The renderings hang on the wall in the church hallway and are available to view at watervillecc.org.
The renovation and expansion will address many needs: an easily identifiable entryway; a large gathering space in the lobby; intuitive layout; and larger, more secure children’s areas.
“The most significant driving force was the kids. We have a lot of families and about 75 to 100 kids each Sunday,” O’Shea said. “Our kids’ area isn’t big enough and we need designated restrooms.”
The most noticeable aesthetic difference will be a 2,500-square-foot addition that extends the building toward the parking lot. The entire middle of the building will be blown out, leaving an open-air, high-ceiling look for a gathering space. The front of the building will be reconfigured with new restrooms and children’s areas. The sanctuary will remain the same, although O’Shea said that would be Phase 2 of the expansion at some point if there is a need to grow.
Since he joined the church 12 years ago, O’Shea has seen the membership hold steady at about 400, which is a positive considering the statistics showing church closings nationwide.
“I feel like we’re becoming the kind of church our cultural moment needs,” O’Shea said. “In 25 years, many churches are going to be gone. This is a rallying cry for us. We’re doing a lot of things to make sure we’re here – and the building is just one of them.”
The newly renovated church will also continue to host the Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry (AWCFM), a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2013 to provide food to a growing number of families. The twice-a-month distributions have grown to nearly 200, said AWCFM president Ron Shoemaker, who said he appreciates the space provided by Waterville Community Church. If the church gets to the point of needing space dedicated for storing and sorting food donations, plans call for a land donation agreement and funding campaign to build a structure on the property to house the ministry. In the meantime, all AWCFM distributions will move to the Maxx Fitness site during the construction.
In preparation for the move, the church is hosting a rummage sale to clear out unwanted items. The sale will take place on Friday, February 2 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturday, February 3 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Proceeds benefit the church’s building project, which is expected to cost around $1.7 million.