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Last updated: Tue. Aug. 14, 2012 - 12:54 am EDT

FAITH

Congregation finds room to grow

Pine Hills moving to Carroll Road; day care stays put

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When Carroll Road Christian Church was put up for sale a few years ago, its listing broker, David Nugent of BND Properties, cast his marketing net far and wide – advertising the sprawling, multi-million-dollar facility on nationwide websites.

But when the property finally sold, it was to a congregation down the street and around the corner: Pine Hills Church at 11331 Coldwater Road.

The Rev. Steve Shaffer, Pine Hills’ executive pastor, says the congregation is now moving its church-related offices and activities to the 69,000 square-foot facility at 4704 W. Carroll Road with the goal of officially opening by mid-October.

The move helps accommodate both a growing church and Pine Hills Learning Place, the congregation’s growing child care center ministry, which will remain at the Coldwater Road site, center director Deb Ingram said.

“Two hundred children go through our building every day, and it’s literally bursting at the seams,” she says, adding that the church draws about 900 people each weekend for three services. “Every square inch is used.”

Shaffer says Pine Hills had been looking at the Carroll Road location for about 2 1/2 years, before it was vacated by its previous congregation. “But we weren’t sure we could afford that center,” he says.

After looking at alternatives that included building more space for the child care center at its Coldwater Road location, the decision was made to move. A farmer agreed to buy 40 acres of the 60-acre property, which made its price more affordable, he says. He and Nugent declined to provide the purchase price.

The site was originally listed for $5.5 million and reduced twice, to $4.9 million and $2.85 million, according to Nugent.

The facility was attractive, Shaffer said. “It’s all on one level, and it’s handicapped-accessible, which is important to us because we have families with children in wheelchairs,” Shaffer said. “There is a youth area and a gym and a full commercial kitchen, children’s facilities, a nice connection area for hospitality, for a café and coffee, and a worship center. Everything was there.”

Nugent says the purchase caps a twisting tale that began when Fort Wayne’s Calvary Temple megachurch at 1500 W. Washington Center Road split in the early 2000s. Amid allegations of moral and financial irregularities and the resignation of one of his sons as pastor, Calvary Temple’s senior pastor, the late Rev. Paul Paino Sr., and two of his minister sons left the temple and started Carroll Road with about 700 members.

But the Carroll Road congregation also split when the sons left for other ministries around 2006, taking some members with them, and Paino died in 2005.

“Membership continued to decline until they could not make (payment on) bank loans,” says Nugent, and the property went into foreclosure. Carroll Road’s congregation disbanded, and in April 2011, its most recent pastor, the Rev. Larry Goodwin, started Grace Summit Church. That congregation, which includes some Carroll Road members, meets at Oak View Elementary School at 13123 Coldwater Road, according to the church’s website.

Shaffer says some renovations are being done to the Carroll Road location and new furniture added. He expects the church will switch to having only two services, both on Sunday morning. The congregation plans to offer a Wednesday night family program with expanded adult education and use its kitchen to prepare food for a partnership it has with Abbott Elementary School, he says.

At the child care center, Ingram says changes will include a new infant room, toddler room and classroom for 3-year-olds.

“(Knocking out) walls will make some classrooms larger, and we’re putting in new restrooms so it will be better for the kids,” she says.

The center, which started in 1976, how has 42 teachers. It offers child care from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, preschool sessions, morning and afternoon kindergarten, emergency drop-in and before-and-after-school care and a summer camp.

Ingram says having the church move out is bittersweet.

“It’s busy, but it’s a happy thing,” she says of the current environment. “The pastor is always here and we hear all the music being practiced. I will definitely miss that. But being able to use more space is wonderful.”

rsalter@jg.net


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