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Gift to the community

First phase of new church should open by Easter

Posted: August 15, 2008 7:19 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Senior Pastor David White gives a tour of the new development of NorthPark Community Church in Santa Clarita on Wednesday. The NorthPark Community Center will offer more than just religious services. It will provide sports facilities, banquet and meeting rooms, a bookstore, a coffee shop, and the Trinity Classical Academy school. The center is s...

 

Amidst the global headquarters and major businesses found in the Rye Canyon Business Park sits an 11-acre space.

There are a couple of construction trailers that dot the area alongside Kelly Johnson Parkway. Construction workers and their equipment work daily on the site, leveling the dirt to establish a sturdy foundation.

And while it may take a moment of holding the building plans and pointing to the major landmarks around the hilly spot to get a sense of what will be where, the vision is clear.

By this time next year, the trailers and mountains of brown dirt will be gone and NorthPark Community Church's vision will begin to take shape.

Around Easter Sunday, church leaders anticipate that the first phase of their 150,000-square-foot community center will be built and open for the church and community to enjoy.

Construction has been underway for around a year, but planning the spacious spot, which will feature amenities ranging from a worship center to sport facilities and banquet rooms, has taken a decade, according to David White, NorthPark's senior pastor.

Why not here?
The community center's history is weaved into the story of how the Bible-believing church began.
While the 1994 Northridge earthquake shook the ground, White said it shook people "enough to ask the God questions."

White, who has lived in Santa Clarita his whole life, said around that time he came across people he remembered from his childhood and teen years.

With each person, White said they were unable to find a church of their own.

It got the pastor thinking about what he could establish in the Santa Clarita Valley for all of his former classmates, friends and colleagues.

"Why don't you plant a church here?" he recalled others asking him. "You know this valley, why not here?"

With that thought, NorthPark was established and held its intimate meetings in the homes of its founders.

In the late 1990s, NorthPark and its growing membership held services at various local buildings.

Less than 10 years ago, the congregation moved into its current home at the retail center of Bouquet Canyon Road and Seco Canyon Road in Saugus.

The church was once occupied by the Goodwill store and a dog grooming business, but has been transformed into a space for all of NorthPark's services and meetings.

Place to go
Over its 15-year history, which the church will celebrate in January, NorthPark has grown significantly in the number of worshippers.

In what started as a few families, White said Sunday morning services bring 1,000 people. Because of the current space, White said they hold four services, averaging 250 people at each.

He estimates a membership of between 2,000 and 2,500.

"We've capped out," he said.

But he said the small space hasn't stopped its members from having fun.

"The people we have are playful," he said. "The people are very real here, authentic and easy going."

He believes NorthPark worshippers are "people who love God and life."

With a growing membership, NorthPark leaders soon began work on planning a new meeting area.

But White wanted it to be a location for more than its members.

"I had no interest in building a church that houses people for four hours a week," he said.

White began reflecting on the needs of the city and what the center could bring to the Santa Clarita Valley.

The most immediate needs were athletic facilities and meeting spaces.

"There are a lot of community groups that don't know where to go," he said, adding that because of the need, NorthPark's space is used for anything from Girl Scout meetings to traffic school sessions.

With a lack of facilities, White said he intends the building to "not be a museum" and instead, a well-used part of the Santa Clarita Valley.

The church has also established a partnership with Trinity Classical Academy, which will also be part of the community center.

The community center is something White believes will address the needs of the local valley.

Broken into three phases, the first phase, totalling 150,000 square-feet, is expected to open around Easter Sunday 2009 and will feature 16 classrooms, a bookstore and coffeehouse. Upstairs, the building will house the chapel, youth center and the 750-seat celebration center.

Phase two will bring a gym, restaurant and banquet facilities that compare to the ballroom at the Hyatt Valencia, a pre-school and third-story events center, which White said will offer views of the local valley.

Plans to build multiple athletic fields, ideal for youth sports, are also underway.

Phase three is still being planned and will reflect what the first two phases could not offer.

To top it off, the center courtyard of the campus will be highlighted by a water feature that White sees being used for baptisms and even kids swim time. Framing the water area will be a clock tower and a series of flags. Not too far away will be a rose garden complete with gates.

White envisions the garden as a place for events such as outdoor celebrations, weddings and funerals.

Part of the solution
Additionally, White said because the Santa Clarita Valley lacks sites for emergency services, he would like the center to be a place for firefighters to park their trucks, shower and stay when they are responding to an ongoing local disaster, like the October wildfires of 2007.

Although the center is located in an industrial area, White said the center's neutral color schemes will "fit in with the Valencia and Santa Clarita look."

But whatever the center is used for, White hopes the spot will feature attractive aspects for all types of groups.

"We're not the solution to people's problems, but we want to be part of the solution," he said.

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