“It's a remarkable opportunity,” said Wisen, who said the deal won't be finalized until the closing, scheduled for May 24. “We're excited about the location. It's a little scary with the amount of work and renovation, and the kind of things that now have been thrust onto our plate — but it was a unanimous decision. We felt that God was in this.”
The Harvest Bible Chapel congregation currently meets at International Aid, 17011 Hickory St.
Wisen estimates it will take a year or longer to remodel the building that was most recently occupied by C3 Exchange, which calls itself an "inclusive spiritual community."
A year ago, C3 officials listed the building and 3.4-acre site for sale at $1.9 million — saying the congregation could no longer afford the mortgage payment, rising utility bills and other expenses. They anticipated a sale when the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids signed a purchase agreement late last year, but that fell through after diocesan representatives determined it would cost too much to remodel the building to meet their needs.
C3 officials signed the deed over to Michigan Commerce Bank earlier this year in lieu of foreclosure on the $1.2 million mortgage.
Wisen would not disclose estimated remodeling costs — but said plans include expanding foyers; updating landscaping; and repairing the south facade, roof, drainage and parking lot.
Returning the cross to the top of the building is another priority, according to Wisen.
The cross was removed from the building when Christ Community Church was renamed C3 Exchange in 2010. At that time, C3 leaders wanted to de-emphasize Christianity as their sole belief system to include people of all faiths or no faith.
Wisen obtained the cross and has been storing it at a local sign business. The original plan was to install it at International Aid, but it never happened due to height restrictions. Wisen said if a new church moved into the Savidge Street building, his congregation had planned to gift the cross back to the building's new owner.
Wisen said it's ironic that it will be his own church that will be re-installing the cross.
Wisen said if the original cross is not structurally sound, a replacement will be made.
While it's clear that Harvest Bible Chapel will use a portion of the 35,000-square-foot building as a church, it remains to be seen what will become of the classrooms and other space.
“We will not be leasing any space out,” Wisen said. “We're looking to use it in ministry — but what shape and form, we don't know. That's part of moving forward on faith. There's more that can be done than we have vision for. Once we get the building closed, we will turn our focus in prayer to how it can be used for ministry.”
Wisen said the 400-plus members in his congregation are excited about moving in 2013.
“They believe this is something that will strengthen us as a congregation,” Wisen said. “It will demand us to do more for the cause of Christ. God's got to show up in a big way for this to be used to his glory. It's probably beyond what we understand at this point.”
Part of that plan will include an expanded children's area and community participation due to a more visible location.
“That's a church that lives in the center of a community that allows you to be part of a community,” he explained. “Kids' programs and vacation Bible school are hard to do when you're at the end of a cul-de-sac in an industrial park. The opportunity to reclaim that property for the cause of Christ and be part of the community were compelling reasons to pursue that church.”