LACONIA — It's not every day that a church buys a building, and a church purchasing a structure in an industrial park is even rarer, but the Faith Alive Christian Fellowship closed this week on a building in the O'Shea Industrial Park in Laconia.
The Rev. John Sanborn, pastor of the church that just marked its 10th anniversary, said they've come a long way from the early days of holding services in his sister's home in Sanbornton in 2006.
They opened to the public when they moved to the Laconia High School auditorium in 2008.
“In the year of the recession, we started a church,” Sanborn said, offering one possible definition of faith.
Faith Alive stayed at the high school for about 3 1/2 years, he said, then moved to its current building in the industrial park six years ago.
From that first group of about 10, the church now has between 130 and 140 members, Sanborn said.
“Just this past year, we saw the greatest growth, with membership increasing by about 20 percent,” he said.
Sanborn attributes the growth to “true faithfulness to what God asks us to do.”
He said when they were at the high school, they knew they were growing and that they wanted to have their own place.
“God was setting things up,” he said.
Case in point was a $100,000 donation they received from someone who had come to the church only a half-dozen times.
They put that in a money market account and banked their weekly offerings — with Sanborn not taking a salary for two years — “so we had another $100,000.”
He said he and his wife, Deborah — who works for The Laconia Daily Sun — looked at a lot of buildings, but the Primrose Drive South location felt right the first time they visited it.
With money in the bank, they hired an architect to design the interior when they moved to the industrial park six years ago, and it was about three years ago that church members started thinking about purchasing the building.
That came to fruition on Thursday, when they closed on the building. Sanborn declined to give the sale price out of modesty, and deflect any credit. “It was all God's doing,” he said.
Registry of Deeds records indicate it was purchased for $1.02 million.
There were two other tenants in the 20,000-square-foot building, but one moved out, Sanborn said, and he envisions using the extra space to develop a youth center that would give teenagers a place to go.
“I really feel in my heart that that's where we need to focus” to reach youths before they get to the age where they make bad decisions, he said. He thinks there's a need for a youth center.
“It's kind of like, 'If you build it, they will come,'” he said.