Sunbury Christian Church has become a Big Walnut community fixture since 17 people started meeting at Sunbury Town Hall in 1956, founding the fellowship.
The growing congregation purchased land at the corner of Rainbow Avenue and High Street in Sunbury in 1956; construction on its current home began in 1959. A sanctuary was added in 1977, offices and a gymnasium in ’95, the sanctuary remodeled in 2000.
But the church is landlocked, a problem with a growing fellowship in a growing community. To accommodate growth, in 2008 Sunbury Christian Church purchased a little over 11 acres on the east side of State Route 3 at the southern end of Dominion Homes’ Sunbury Meadows just north of Arrowhead Golf Course.
That parcel fell under the umbrella of Dominion’s Sunbury Meadows Development Plan. Today that development and the original development agreement are owned by Pulte Homes.
Without a formal construction plan in hand, members of the Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission approved a motion to allow Sunbury Christian’s less-intense use of the property; with Dominion Homes’ residential sewer tap pre-pay commitment for 25 homes and tree replacement requirements remaining with the residential developer.
There were a host of contingencies and additional trips to Sunbury Zoning and Sunbury Village Council before Sunbury Christian could clear the site and turn first dirt.
Last Sunday it was official. In opening a brief service at the fellowship’s new site, Sunbury Christian’s Senior Minister Mike Bratten said the new church would be a focal point at the south entry to the village.
Eller Architecture designed the building; Lincoln Construction will build the project.
When Phase One is complete, the church will have a 25,000-square-foot worship building complete with offices, classrooms, a nursery, a gathering area, and a sanctuary seating 530.
Phase Two will be a 15,000-square-foot multi-purpose building with additional classrooms, a gymnasium, and a kitchen. Phase Three will be a 15,000-square-foot dedicated-classroom building, and Phase Four will complete the plan with a remodeling of the Phase One building to increase the sanctuary size to accommodate approximately 1,000 people.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.