Church taking over empty store
Iglesia de Cristo to move downtown
By Scott Bellile
An empty store on West Wolf River Avenue is set to become the new home of a Spanish-language church.
Iglesia de Cristo will relocate to 616 W. Wolf River Ave. because the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to demolish its present building on State Highway 15 by 2018, when a bypass begins construction.
The church shares a building with Faith Christian Church on the bend near Cross Road in the town of Hortonia. Faith Christian plans to relocate to northern New London.
The building Iglesia de Cristo will occupy has sat vacant since the Rivers Edge Marine boat dealership was foreclosed upon in 2014. In court, a judge ordered Rivers Edge Marine to pay more than $42,000 to the city of New London and more than $360,000 to Hometown Bank of Fond du Lac.
Michael Van Abel, sales broker for Bomier Properties Inc., told the New London Planning Commission the property is a good fit for Iglesia de Cristo on Thursday, July 28.
“I’m sure the city would love to see that building cleaned up as well,” Van Abel said. “They plan to do a lot of work on it I think at the end of the year. As far as my understanding, it shouldn’t be any inconvenience to the neighbors.”
Because Iglesia de Cristo will operate in a B-1 Central Business District, the planning commission approved a conditional use request with three stipulations: The church must provide on-site parking, it can’t hold classes before 5 p.m. and it can’t complain about the volume of traffic in the area.
The church plans to stay at 616 W. Wolf River Ave. permanently. Church member Patti O’Connell told the commission Iglesia de Cristo has a growing congregation, and despite not finding many locations in New London suitable for the church, the aim was to keep it in town.
“We do plan to make it look really nice,” O’Connell told the commission. “Our pastor’s a carpenter, he’s a homebuilder, roofer, so very handy to have him.”
The pastor, Jose Huerta, appeared with his wife Alicia to thank the commission for approving their request. He said the church will do its best to help the community.
The church has been around for about seven years, O’Connell said. It’s largely Hispanic but welcomes everyone and has interpreters on hand.
“We have a vision to reach the community,” O’Connell said. “We want to reach people of all ethnic backgrounds. We know that the good news that we have would make a positive impact. We have a heart for this area, we pray for this area and we want to bring wonderful things to this area.”
Faith Christian Church, meanwhile, will move to the building that houses Northland Electrical Services in the North East New London Business Park. The planning commission approved Faith Christian’s request on July 14 with the same three conditional use stipulations, plus a 10-year limit to stay there. Unlike Iglesia de Cristo, Faith Christian has a goal of building a new church.