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Mega church announces plans for mega development in Houston

 


Mega church announces plans for mega development in Houston

Jan. 31, 2005

By Tamie Ross*

HOUSTON (UMNS) – More than 10,000 members of the largest U.S. United Methodist congregation wept and cheered Jan. 30 as leaders unveiled a multifaceted plan for growth at Windsor Village United Methodist Church.

During a combined "Celebrate Life Together" service at the Toyota Center, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell introduced a 10-minute video for the Kingdom Builders Center, including architectural renderings for a 6,500-seat sanctuary, a 24-hour prayer center and a family life complex in southwest Houston. The primarily African-American congregation currently meets for its seven weekend services at three different locations, having grown from 25 worshippers in 1982 to its current membership of more than 14,000.

"The Kingdom Builders Center is going to improve our community for years to come," Caldwell said of the planned 423,000-square-foot, self-contained facility. "We’re creating spaces that connect people of all ages to one another and to God."

Caldwell said he initially sought 20 acres of land for "a little prayer center." When a package of 234 acres was offered instead, the vision grew.

"Obviously, the Lord had this in mind all along, but he had to continue to reveal it to us," said Irv White, director of marketing at Windsor Village.

The new sanctuary-in-the-round will be part of a large, mall-like structure that will offer a community approach to life, White said. He declined to say how much the development would cost or how it would be financed.

He pointed to a 452-home development, Corinthian Pointe — nearing 95 percent completion on the campus’ north side — as a testament to church leaders’ desire to transform 234 acres of vacant "grazing land" into a place people can call their home or church. Additionally, 80 percent of the new homes are classified as affordable housing, ranging in price from $70,000 to $80,000.

Land was donated to the Houston Independent School District, and an elementary school is also under construction in the "community within a community," White said. Groundbreaking for the family life center, which will serve as an interim sanctuary, will begin this spring.

"We envision this as the perfect church family room," Caldwell said of the family life center. It will include an educational component, age-appropriate play centers and recreational opportunities within one building. The center also will offer retail operations, such as a combination bookstore/coffee house/eatery, and a large children’s play area.

A youth retreat with a video arcade will offer teens a place to gather, while younger children will gravitate to the carousel. A tropical fish aquarium and an aviary featuring macaws will round out the atrium-like atmosphere, White said.

Future projects planned for the development include a YMCA, Corinthian Village Retirement Community, a 20-acre park, two nationally known chain drug stores, plus other retail and public-use elements.

"This is not just about building a sanctuary – it’s about taking the sanctuary to the streets," Caldwell said. "This is … designed to address the educational, economical, social, spiritual, cultural and emotional needs of the community.

"By investing in our community, we empower holistic transformation in people’s lives."

*Ross is a freelance journalist based in Dallas.

News media contact: Linda Green or Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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