BY BRYNA ZUMER, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:10 AM EDT, April 3, 2013
Mountain Christian Church is considering opening a satellite site at a vacant Edgewood strip mall often referred to as the Ames Shopping Center, several community leaders have confirmed.
The church has met with some Edgewood residents to discuss plans to move into the former home of Fountain of Life Fellowship Church, behind Walgreens off Pulaski Highway and Paul Martin Drive.
The site would be the second satellite location for Mountain Christian, which draws roughly 4,000 people each week to its main sanctuary on Mountain Road in Joppa.
The church launched its first satellite site at The John Carroll School just before Easter two years ago.
Luke Erickson, a pastor at Mountain Christian, declined to comment last week on the potential lease, which has not been finalized.
Two local officials, however, said the move would be good news for Edgewood.
"We have been trying to get the faith-based community involved in activities to improve the quality of life in Edgewood," Jansen Robinson, head of the Edgewood Community Council, said.
"Mountain Christian has been one of the few faith-based organizations that have stepped up to the plate to work with us on various projects," he said, noting the church has offered its facilities for funerals for Edgewood residents who had no place to go, offered help to people with financial problems and has done community service projects in Edgewood for its annual ServeFest events.
"From my perspective, it moves them closer to the issues," Robinson said about Mountain Christian coming to Edgewood.
The move would also help fill the small shopping center, which has been completely empty since Fountain of Life left within the past year. The Ames chain went out of business in 2002.
"At one point the owner was trying to attract some businesses," Robinson said. "I believe the vacant buildings are an eyesore, so I believe if Mountain Christian would come in, then there would be some other services or businesses, if you will, that would also move into that vacant space."
Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie, who represents Edgewood, also said the move would help Edgewood.
"I think it's a great idea," he said Friday. "One of the reasons they are doing it is they have over 400 members who live in Edgewood."
Guthrie said the shopping center had plans at one point for a mixed-use property, but that died. He did note the owners built a "nice strip mall" in front of the older plaza.
Mountain Christian's John Carroll site drew up to 1,000 people upon opening. The church has also organized or supported at least seven other area churches over the years.
A Baptist church had also looked into the Fountain of Life space, Guthrie said, but decided it was not interested and is considering moving into the site of the Joppatowne Swim Club off of Joppa Farm Road, including building a 600-seat to 800-seat property there.
The Rev. Donte Hickman, of Southern Baptist Church, was scheduled to speak on the issue before the Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council on Monday.
The Baltimore-based Southern Baptist Church outgrew the Regal Cinema theater in Abingdon and began holding services at Aberdeen High School's 800-seat auditorium in 2011, according to the church's website.