After more than three years, the Rev. J. Wesley Potter ca finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
With the completion of the new Kingsway Christian Center, Potter will bring his congregation from its temporary home at Parkville Middle School to the new center on a tract highly visible from Interstate 95 and the Beltway in Parkville. The building is scheduled for completion in the fall.
More than three years ago, the congregation, previously known as the Baltimore Pentecostal Holiness Church, sold its building at 6000 Loch Raven Blvd. to the Friendship Baptist Church, and purchased the 7 1/2 -acre farm at the end of Gum- spring Road for $250,000.
Potter said it took three years, five months and two days to get a building permit from Baltimore County, "and we pursued it intensely, every week and every month."
Potter attributed the delay to several factors, among them the center's only existing access road, which traveled through the land's 1-acre flood zone.
"The road had to avoid the flood zone, so we had two choices -- either raise the road or build a private access road," Potter said. It took time for the center to negotiate the purchase of a piece of land from an adjacent resident where an emergency access road can be built, he said.
The skeleton of the center and its sanctuary can be seen from nearly all directions where I-695 meets I-95 in Parkville -- a prime location because of its visibility, Potter said. Perhaps most noticeable to legions of northbound I-95 travelers is the sanctuary's umbrella-shaped roof, a design which Potter said he adapted from a church in Oklahoma, where the Pentecostal Church is based.
The rest of the building was designed by Ronald Newcomer Architects, a Pennsylvania-based company. The church has acted as its owncontractor, Potter said, but hired a construction superintendent.
In addition to the sanctuary, the 23,000-square-foot building will house 19 classrooms for Sunday school and, eventually, a kindergarten, Potter said. A gymnasium, offices, a small chapel and a snack room also will be included, he said.
The center also hopes to eventually build additional classrooms. In the meantime, temporary classrooms will surround the sanctuary. They can be removed if the expansion takes place.
"We just don't know how growth will be," said Potter, who has presided over the congregation for 10 years. He decided to change the church's name to Kingsway because "it's easier to identify."
Although the lack of a permanent home for his congregation caused a drop in attendance, Potter said, construction of the new building has initiated a wave of interest. And the wait did have some advantages, he said.
"When you have three and a half years to review a plan, you can make a lot of changes," he said. "We had time to make some definite improvements."