Businessman's ties to Savage lead to 'miracle' land donation for church NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

December 31, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

To Don Cox, pastor of the Bethel Assembly of God Church in Savage, it's nothing less than a miracle.

The church was planning to spend $350,000 to buy a seven-acre piece of land to build a new church and school building.

When Mr. Cox met with Wayne Newsome, the businessman who owned the land, Mr. Newsome told him that he would donate the property to the church.

"Is that a miracle?" Mr. Cox asked. "We were elated."

Mr. Newsome, president of Hearth and Home Distributors in Columbia, said he gave the land to the church because of his ties to the Savage community.

"I started my company in the old Savage Mill 20 years ago, and I've made a lot of friends in Savage through the years," Mr. Newsome said.

"I'm glad that I'm able to help pastor Cox and his congregation, for they've done a lot to help the community."

The 300-member church, located on Woodward Street, will apply for a zoning exception to build a 500-seat church and education building at Route 32 and Volmerhausen Road.

Parish members voted to build a new church because the congregation has nearly doubled its membership since Mr. Cox became pastor in 1982.

The estimated cost of the new church is $1.6 million. Mr. Cox said the church expects to raise part of the money through

fund-raising drives and the sale of the church on Woodward Street.

Plans call for the church to break ground on the new facility in next September 1993, and move in a year later.

The new facility may also serve as a "second campus" for the Bethel Christian Academy, Mr. Cox said.

The church-run school, which has 160 students from pre-school through eighth grade, is located in the old Savage Elementary School on Savage-Guilford Road.

The church bought the building in 1984 from the county, which had been using it as a maintenance building since 1974.

Mr. Cox recalls that the old school was in "rough shape," withundreds of broken windows, rotting ceilings and dead birds on the gym floor.

"It was a real eyesore to the community," Mr. Cox said.

Church members have put in thousands of volunteer hours and about $300,000 renovating the school, a transformation Mr. Cox also describes as "miraculous."

"To see this building in such disrepair and to see it change anfill with children has been an exciting adventure," Mr. Cox said.

Bethel Christian Academy may expand the school to include high school grades in its new building if there are enough students to support it, Mr. Cox said.

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