Center's Expansion Close To Completion

January 02, 1991

The Wilde Lake Interfaith Center plans to complete a $500,000 renovation and expansion project this spring.

The 5,000 square feet of additional space will be used for new offices, while the existing offices will be converted to classrooms. In addition, the meeting rooms will be renovated.

The growth of the congregations that worship at the facility and a need for more classrooms for Sunday school led to the decision to expand the 20-year-old facility, said Ian Paris, manager of the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.

An anonymous $50,000 donation got the building project under way. Center congregation members came up with the remainder of the money through fund-raising efforts, Paris said.

Currently, four congregations worship at the center: St. John's Baptist Church, St. John's United Methodist Church, St. John the EvangelistRoman Catholic Church and St. John's Lutheran Church.

In addition, outside groups may rent rooms at the center for weddings, meetings or seminars.

About 7,000 people attend services at the center each weekend.

The Roman Catholic parishioners make up about half of the center's entire congregation.

Paris estimates that the center's four congregations have each grown between 30 and 40 percent over thelast 15 years.

In a separate project, the congregation of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church is planning to renovate its worship room at the center, but the final design has not been completed.

The Wilde Lake Interfaith Center is one of four such facilities in Columbia. The other centers are located in Oakland Mills, Owen Brown and Long Reach, Paris said.

The interfaith concept was one of the social innovations promoted by the Rouse Co. during the development of Columbia in the 1960s. The centers were designed to foster understanding among faiths by having them work and worship together.

The Wilde Lake Interfaith Center is run by a board of directors and theColumbia Religious Facilities Corp.

The corporation was formed when 12 national denominations donated money for the construction of religious centers as the Rouse Co. began to build Columbia.

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