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Image Changers Church worshipping in larger facility this Saturday, Sunday

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POSTED April 26, 2013 2:04 a.m.

LATHROP – Pastor Willie Anderson Jr. had a vision.

He saw a grand church complex where people could come on Sundays in droves and never have to worry about whether they had a place to sit.

He saw a place where childcare could be provided for not only the churchgoers during scheduled events, but the community as a whole.

He saw an independent business located within the same complex that would help offset the costs of turning such a vision into a reality – taking his Image Changers Church from a small but dedicated congregation into a 300-plus seat auditorium.

And last week he got the formal blessing of the Lathrop City Council to pursue it in the vacant building at the corner of Golden Valley Parkway and Town Centre Drive, just a stone’s throw away from the city’s municipal complex.

The 14,400 square-foot space – which will occupy more than half of the 24,000 square-foot building – required a conditional use permit because of zoning requirements in the section of town that the church was actively pursuing a location.

The Planning Commission had previously given its blessing before the matter came before the council.

“Moving into a complex like this is a blessing and gives us the chance to start serving the community at the level that it needs,” Anderson Jr. said. “It’s an opportunity to host the community, and be one of several providing services for people here that actually need them.

“We’re looking forward to showing people what this new facility can allow us to do for the people.”

According to the information provided on the application, services to the community and the congregation will be available daily – an after-school program for the youth is planned Monday through Friday from 3 to 9 p.m. while weekday services are set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

Weekend services will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The building itself could be made available for wedding receptions or funerals -- meaning that amplified sound or alcohol could be a possibility – and additional permitting through the Lathrop Police Department could be required.

Currently the plans call for the construction of an adjacent space that would be converted into a state-qualified preschool, a package shipping and receiving center and a sports training facility. The cost to utilize such facilities would help provide revenue for the church and offset monthly expenses.

The preschool, which accepts subsidy vouchers, opens on May 13. An orientation for all parents interested will be held the following day. The Lion’s Den sports academy – which focuses on football and cheerleading – is set to open in June. 

But the permit that requires the church to operate isn’t completely concrete.

As a stipulation in the approval, Lathrop’s city staff still has some flexibility when it comes to certain church uses and activities and reserves the right to bring the matter back before the planning commission for additional consideration.

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