Church Battling for New Location - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/18/05

Church Battling for New Location

An Ocean Springs church is planning to fight a decision that would keep them from having their first permanent building.

The Fellowship Church wants to use space at the old Sea Shore Plaza Shopping Center. But last week, the city's planning commission denied a special zoning request to use the area.

Six years ago, the building was home to Jitney Jungle, where shoppers filled the aisles buying food. Now a Jackson County pastor hopes it won't be long before people fill the aisles of his church seeking food for the soul.

"These are our plans for our church," said Pastor Brad Robertson of Fellowship Church. "We have a big lobby area when people walk in. There's a guest relations center where people who are new can come in."

Whether these plans will come to fruition is still uncertain. The 600-member church wants to buy the entire shopping plaza, which is home to a dozen stores. Church leaders say this location will make the church highly visible. The decision to buy the entire plaza is economical.

Church member Doug Molyneaux said, "All of the rent that comes in from the center will pretty much cover all the debt that we'll have on the center."

But some business owners whose stores are housed in this plaza, are unsure how it will impact their businesses. However, church leaders say setting up services will only build up neighboring businesses.

"This building has been sitting empty for the past six years," Molyneaux said, "and there hasn't been a retailer come in to Ocean Springs that could fill it. With Wal-Mart selling groceries right down the street, it's very doubtful that we'll have a grocery store coming into the area any time in the foreseeable future. So I think we're about the only use that could fill it up and bring traffic to the center."

Church members are praying they will find a new home, but say regardless, they'll be working hard to share the light of their ministry wherever they go.

The church will make their appeal at the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night.

by Toni Miles

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