After years of planning (and revising those plans), members of Black Rock Congregational Church are preparing for a new, bigger church to take the place of the current building on 3685 Black Rock Turnpike.
A groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction of the new church is set for 10 a.m. on Oct. 8. The work will begin the next week and the last services to be held at the existing church will be on Oct. 14, according to church Executive Director Ken Brix.
Construction is expected to take about 15 months and church officials hope to occupy the new building in February 2014, according to the plan's -- known as the "Lighthouse Project" -- timeline.
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The new church -- which will include a larger Worship Center, a wing for children's education, a café, an expanded Welcome Center, two rooms dedicated to junior high and high school students, a dedicated prayer room, and a kitchen -- will better accommodate the congregation's 2,000 members, Brix said.
The existing one-story, 33,000-square-foot building will become a two-story structure with a 53,000-square-foot first floor and 17,000-square-foot second floor. The new church's Worship Center will be able to seat 950 members -- nearly double the current sanctuary's ability to seat 500 people.
The worshippers, volunteers, and staff, who hail from Fairfield, Bridgeport, Weston, Stratford, Trumbull, Easton, Monroe, Shelton, and Westport, will meet for services and activities at Notre Dame High School of Fairfield and First Presbyterian Church through the duration of construction. Church offices have been temporarily relocated to Stratford, according to Brix.
Brix said that when the church asked for 160 members to step up as volunteers for set up for services at Notre Dame, more than 450 signed up.
"We’re extremely excited that the church has embraced the need so enthusiastically, and we’re looking forward to engaging everyone in setting up and tearing down rooms as needed at Notre Dame," he said.
The journey to creating a new, larger church on the Black Rock Turnpike property first faced intense opposition from neighbors and lead to the closing of Black Rock Nursery School, which was housed in the current church until the end of the past school year. The school's staff was unable to find a new location in time for the school year and cannot be housed at any of the temporary sites throughout construction.
Opposition to the church's desire to expand lead to the current building plan, which is 15 percent smaller than originally planned, Brix said. The new church will remain sited on the existing footprint to keep from being obtrusive to neighbors.
To facilitate traffic flow, the plans also include a northbound and southbound turning lane on Black Rock Turnpike. The existing two driveways will be merged into one to help police manage traffic, according to Brix. These plans were approved by the State Traffic Commission and the Fairfield Plan and Zoning Commission.
For a history of Black Rock Congregational Church's plans to expand, see:
- Neighbors Still Have Concerns with BRCC's Proposed Replacement Church
- Black Rock Congregational Church Wins Approval for Replacement Church
- Parents Endeavor to Save Black Rock Nursery School