GRAND CROSSING — New Life Covenant Church plans to expand its South Side presence with a groundbreaking this week for an early childhood center and a new sanctuary.
The groundbreaking event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in a vacant lot at 7600 S. Greenwood Ave., which is where the new, $26 million, 100,000-square-foot sanctuary will be built.
The 19,000-member church is currently located at 1021 E. 78th St., which will be used as a youth center once the new church is completed in December 2015, according to the Rev. John Hannah, pastor of the church. And once the new church is completed, Hannah said he would no longer have to hold three Sunday worship services at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road.
The church's $4 million, 40,000-square-foot early childhood center, which will be for newborns to 5-year-olds, will be built across the street from the new church. Completion is scheduled for March 2015.
Hannah said more space is not the only reason the church is expanding in Grand Crossing.
"Our goal is to provide a ‘beacon of light’ to families and children in a community whose light has been dimmed far too long,” Hannah said. "If you are going to change a community, you have to start with the kids."
He added that the church will provide resources to the community, such as spiritual guidance, education, physical and mental health, healthy living and nutrition, housing and jobs.
Last October, the church donated 30 computers each to nearby Avalon Park Elementary School and Hirsch Metropolitan High School, which Hannah said the church has adopted.
"This allowed both schools to start a computer lab. In this age of technology I don't know how you can have a school without a computer lab," he said. "That's like going to church without a Bible."
The early childhood center, a first for the church, will expose students to technology and arts, Hannah said.
"We will also have an app for parents that will allow them to see what's going on inside their child's classroom from their phones and computers," Hannah said.
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