Oak Grove Baptist Church could soon have a slightly more impressive presence on its corner at Route 22 and Thomas Run Road, near Harford Community College.
The church is planning to add a $5 million to $7 million, two-story building that will hold a multipurpose space with a collegiate-size indoor basketball court, as well as more office and educational space.
Rev. David Hall, Oak Grove's senior minister, said the expansion has been discussed for about 10 years, when the church had a long-range planning study done, but the economy has made starting the project unrealistic for the past several years.
Hall did not the exact size proposed for the new building, but it would be a significant addition for the current church building, which dates to 1945.
"We feel like right now is the time, and I think it was a pretty unanimous vote," Hall said about the five-member building committee that approved the addition.
"This is going to bless our current ministries, future ministries and of course the school that we now have," he said.
The Oak Grove Classical Christian School, which has students in grades from pre-kindergarten to 12th, is in its second year, and Hall said he hopes it continues to grow.
The congregation averages about 700 attendees at a Sunday service and regularly has to rent out space to hold larger, church-wide events, he said.
For a banquet, the only space that will accommodate Oak Grove is the Richlin Ballroom, several miles away, he said, so the new multipurpose space will be useful.
"Oak Grove has a major emphasis on small group ministry, and right now we don't have enough space to accommodate it," Hall added. "We will continue to put a premium on this type of ministry, small group ministry."
Building the addition will mean razing the white building that is west of the church's sanctuary.
Hall said he does not expect the project to seriously affect traffic at the busy intersection or to require substantially expanded parking. The Route 22 and Thomas Run intersection is one of the busiest in the county on weekdays because of the college and several schools nearby.
The church has agreements with John Archer School and Harford Technical High School to use their parking lots, although it could gain some more room for parking after the white building is razed, Hall said.
The church has a head start on its capital campaign, with more than $1 million in the bank already, he said.