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Faith Community Church settles into new home

Opening of new Newhall spread ends 13 years of waiting

Posted: July 5, 2008 12:57 a.m.
Updated: September 5, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Senior Pastor Steve Jackson stands in front of Faith Community Church's new 23-acre spread in Newhall.

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After more than 13 years of planning, patience and prayer, the leaders and worshipers of Faith Community Church finally got what they were asking for: A permanent home.

Located in Newhall, the new church sits below a hillside dotted with around 220 aging oak trees that give the Sunday morning worshipers inside an inspiring view of Santa Clarita's natural environment.

With ceilings that top 40 feet and wall-sized windows on the second floor, the sanctuary and surrounding space, which is spread over a total of 23 acres, can seat 460 attendees and is equipped with technology that features digital multimedia audio and video capabilities.

In the sanctuary's hallway hangs a photo of the new church, framed by inspiring Biblical quotes and references written by Faith Community Church families who attended the special service held a couple weeks ago, the first of many services that are to be held there.

Just a few steps outside the sanctuary's hallway is a panoramic view of Santa Clarita that shows the rows of homes that line the surrounding hills.

A flight of stairs brings visitors down to the childrens' areas, which include classrooms for the pre-school and areas for the youth ministry services.

The setting for Faith Community Church comes after years of waiting and fundraising that date back to the mid 1990s.

Senior pastor Steve Jackson said Faith Community Church families bounced around numerous locations in the Santa Clarita Valley until the property was built.

From the cafeteria of the Hart High School cafeteria where the founding members held worship services to the decade at the Hillside Professional Center on Golden Triangle Road in Canyon Country, the church waited years for the right spot to call their own space.

In 1995, Faith Community Church, then led by former senior pastor Craig Miller, found its 20 acres of land.
"The original asking price was over $1 million," Jackson said from his office located in the temporary building set up in the church parking lot. While the sanctuary is completed, the church offices have yet to be moved into the new building.

After some back and forth, Jackson said a year later, the church purchased the land for $425,000.
With the bare and hilly acres of land ready, now came the real challenge: paying off the land and starting construction.

Through its fundraising campaign, FaithBuilders, the church was able to hold groundbreaking services in 2000.

Jackson, who joined the church in 2006, said permitting process was "slow and arduous."
Construction proved to be even more difficult.

"The area the church was on was a slope," he said.

"We ran into all sorts of problems," including sinkholes which required the church to pay thousands of dollars extra to install a metal-based foundation, he said.

"It was just a lot of dirt being moved around," he said.

Because the church never anticipated running into the foundation problems, Jackson said Faith Community Church organized a special service at Hart High School's auditorium. Worshipers proved their dedication to their future home as they raised $200,000, a big jump from their goal of $120,000.

By 2003, the people of Faith Community Church were eager to move into the soon-to-be-completed space, especially as they were outgrowing their worship space at the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Jackson recalls the leadership thinking, "Let's try to get on site and build out as we grow."

In the following years, Faith Community Church entered the final stretch. Fundraising brought $400,000 in for the final phase of construction in 2007.

During that time, portables were brought onto the site and were converted into classrooms and the sanctuary.

"We were a church in a box for a while," Jackson joked.

A year later, the space would ready for use.

But the move to a spacious home serves as a major transition for the more than 20-year-old church that used to meet in the living room of one of the founding couples.

The church, a member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, started in 1984 among a handful of young couples that wanted a church that would offer a perfect fit for them and the dozens of other young couples that were moving to the detached and distant Santa Clarita Valley to raise their families.

Using the Hart High School cafeteria, the small group organized their Sunday worship services using the help of a part-time pastor.

With the slogan, "Where friendships begin," Jackson said the founders began promoting the church to the community.

In 1987, Craig Miller signed on as pastor to start what would be his 18 years as the church's leader.
And while the Santa Clarita Valley has morphed to become its own standing community and the church's base has grown from an intimate 30 followers to the hundreds now, Jackson believes the church still attracts young couples.

"The Lord does continue to bless us with young families," he said, adding that many of the families from the church's early beginnings continue to attend.

With the hundreds of young couples that attend the church services, they bring their babies and children, too.

Jackson said around 150 youngsters will attend church, which means the new cry room and nursery will be well-used throughout the years.

As Jackson looks to the future of Faith Community Church, he hopes the presence of the building will draw in more worshippers.

While he believes the Lord has continued to bless the people of Faith Community Church, Jackson wants the church to bring others and "be a bright light to the community."

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