By Joyce Miles<br><a href="mailto:email@example.com">E-mail Joyce</a>
A regional mega church is opening a satellite location in downtown Lockport.
CrossPoint Chapel, based in Getzville, will have its first worship service at the Historic Palace Theatre on Easter Sunday, April 4.
The non-denominational church recently struck lease deals with the Palace and the owner of the Historic Post Office so it can hold Sunday services for adults and children, according to Pastor Matt Eisenhower.
CrossPoint’s deal with the Palace is a bit unconventional. In lieu of paying rent to use the theater on Sunday mornings, the church agreed to perform in-kind services advancing theater renovation. Members will build a sound booth, help clean out and update the coat room and install new electrical wiring, carpeting and windows on the Palace’s second floor. The church also will share a high-end video projector with the theater, Eisenhower said.
According to 4th Ward Alderman Andy Chapman, a church member who announced the deals at last week’s Common Council meeting, CrossPoint counts in excess of 200 Lockport families as members.
Opening of a satellite church is partly about cutting those members’ Sunday drive time, and partly about assisting Lockport, Eisenhower said.
“We’re trying to get closer to the communities we care about,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for members to influence their local community.”
Sunday services at the Palace will consist of live music and adult worship in the auditorium, led by Eisenhower. The weekly sermon by CrossPoint’s lead pastor, Jerry Gillis, will be shown by closed-circuit video.
Across the street, at the Historic Post Office, children’s programs will be conducted for two age groups, age 2 to fourth grade and fifth through eighth grade.
CrossPoint is leasing 6,000 square feet there for children’s church and local church offices. Eisenhower declined to state the lease length but said CrossPoint’s intent is to stay downtown indefinitely.
“We plan to be there for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We really want to invest in downtown Lockport.”
Church occupation of downtown real estate will affect redevelopment of nearby properties. According to state liquor law, no business may obtain a license to sell or serve alcoholic beverages within 200 feet of a church or school.
Since Ulrich City Centre began hosting weekly, summertime Canal Concert Series in 2008, city leaders have tried casting an image of downtown as the city’s “entertainment district.” The Palace is viewed as part of that.
So, conceivably, is property a block north of the Historic Post Office: The old Jubilee market building acquired by Lockport Ice Arena & Sports Center, for development of an ice arena/recreation facility. According to LIASC Chairman John Ottaviano, CrossPoint siting throws into question the outfit’s tentative plans to have a small bar area for adults.
When Christian Academy of Western New York operated from 120 Main St., an old mall, city officials said that also had a discouraging effect on certain types of businesses locating downtown. Any licensed liquor-serving establishments opened before the school located there were protected, but new bar-type businesses could not be opened near it. CAWNY left downtown last year.
CrossPoint’s Lockport satellite location will be its third “campus,” according to its Web Site. It is also the sponsor of Renovation Church on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo.