The suburbs' largest megachurch is inaugurating a new worship space in downtown Crystal Lake later this month.
Willow Crystal Lake will mark the opening of its permanent new home at 100 S. Main St. with a celebration and services Oct. 21 and 22.
The new, 193,000-square-foot church is situated on a 25-acre campus that will cater to more than 4,000 attendees with room for growth. Its development has been a labor of love with more than 150 volunteers putting in more than 10,000 hours of work, from painting to installing flooring.
It took four years of searching and vetting more than 80 properties to find a centrally-located space to better serve the needs of the community, said Marcus Bieschke, lead pastor of Willow Crystal Lake.
"We had long outgrown our previous space, but held out for four years while we searched for the perfect location to call our new home," Bieschke said. "While we're excited about our new building, our real passion lies in helping our local community thrive now and for years to come."
The 14-year-old church serves families through partnerships with Crystal Lake and McHenry County organizations, such as the Crystal Lake Food Pantry, Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, Salvation Army, Refuge for Women, Pioneer Center, Safe Families, The Blessing Barn, Kids Hope USA, Home of the Sparrow, and Helping Hands Prison Ministry.
South Barrington-based Willow Creek Community Church, now in its 42nd year with weekly attendance of more than 25,000, has seven regional satellite locations, including Huntley, Lincolnshire, and Wheaton. Each is a fully functioning church with its own lead pastor, staff members, and programs to meet the needs of those communities.
"I have unbounded optimism for the growth of Willow Crystal Lake," said Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church senior pastor. "We're called to make an impact for Jesus, and this expansion is a true testament to how God is working in and through our local community."
The grand opening ceremony and services are at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 and at 9 and 11:15 a.m. Oct. 22.
The service will include music and an inspirational message by Bieschke, followed by family activities, such as Touch-a-Truck, inflatables, lawn games, a live broadcast from Star 105.5 and two giant walls covered in doughnuts from Country Donuts of Elgin.
"I believe that what Willow Creek plans to do here, making this its full-time permanent home, for hopefully 100 years into the future and beyond, is going to be a very positive impact for the city of Crystal Lake," Mayor Aaron Shepley said.