(Photo: Eric Cotter)
A California megachurch has moved into a new piece of property, an old facility once operated by the Boeing company, a major provider of aircraft for civilian and military use.
Eastside Christian Church, a 50-year-old congregation once situated at a seven-acre facility in Fullerton, had an opening ceremony at the Anaheim-based building this past weekend. Gene Appel, senior pastor at Eastside, told The Christian Post that the reason for the move had to do with his congregation's dramatic growth over the past few years.
"Our property search criteria included remaining within 15 minutes of the former Fullerton site, accessibility, visibility, ample parking and room to grow," said Appel.
"A 20-acre former aerospace campus in Anaheim that had formerly been owned by Rockwell and later Boeing not only met, but exceeded the criteria with 2 buildings: a 6-story and 2-story with over 400,000 square feet combined, 1550 parking spaces, and accessibility from 3 major freeways."
Eastside purchased the former Boeing property at $20 million; the congregation proceeded to spend an additional $35 million for the sake of remodeling and renovating the facilities.
Their former location in Fullerton was sold to a predominantly Korean-speaking congregation named Dong Shin Presbyterian Church of Fullerton for $16.6 million.
"This weekend was the grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the plaza Saturday and 3 grand opening worship services," said Appel.
"While we had high hopes for how functional the site would be, I think it's safe to say it exceeded all our wildest expectations. The children's ministry (Kidside) is especially fun with an aerospace theme that acknowledges the history of the buildings which were built in 1962."
Regarding the opening event, the Orange County Register reported that by the time of the move, Eastside had a regular attendance of about 3,500 people.
According to Appel, the opening weekend resulted in an attendance of about 5,300 people; however the senior pastor told CP that he is unsure if this will be the norm for future weekends.
"A small church that Eastside planted exactly 27 years ago this week, Community Christian Church of Anaheim merged back with Eastside at the grand opening," said Appel.
While moved into its new home, Eastside Christian Church is far from finishing its expansion efforts. In the spring, the church will be adding a Spanish-language ministry.