A gift freely given: North Aurora church donates building, property to Geneva congregation

  • Construction continues at the new Chapelstreet campus on Wednesday on Banbury Road in North Aurora. Cornerstone Community Baptist Church, the previous congregation in the property, gifted it to Chapelstreet.

      Construction continues at the new Chapelstreet campus on Wednesday on Banbury Road in North Aurora. Cornerstone Community Baptist Church, the previous congregation in the property, gifted it to Chapelstreet. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Posted4/30/2021 6:00 AM

Leaders at Chapelstreet Church were pleased last fall when the Cornerstone Community Baptist Church in North Aurora gifted their church building and property to the Geneva congregation.

It moved Chapelstreet into expansion mode, earmarking the site at 307 Banbury Road to become the congregation's fourth church, adding to sites on South Street, Keslinger Road and in Mill Creek South near the Marklund Hyde Center.


"They (Cornerstone) had come to the end of their life cycle as a church and were determining what to do next," said Abe Doncel, director of operations at Chapelstreet. "They asked us just over a year ago if we would be interested in merging or in an acquisition. They would cease to exist and donate assets to our church, so we could open a new campus."

After some "back-and-forth process" for a while, Doncel said, it was decided Cornerstone would absolve the church and make the donation to Chapelstreet, which had plenty of ideas about what it could do with the building and property.

"Then COVID hit, and we closed it down anyway," Doncel said. "We began to build and design a project to determine how to renovate and build new space there."

Remodeling started in February, adding 3,000 square feet of new space and renovating the existing 6,000 square-foot building.

The congregation has yet to hold a service at the North Aurora site, but it's eyeing a possible opening around Sept. 1, and it is fully engaged in a North Aurora Campus Matching Challenge.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

The fundraising was needed because the building was not adequate for what Chapelstreet was hoping to do. As of last week, the effort had netted more than $1 million toward the $1.8 million goal. An anonymous donor came forward with a matching gift of up to 50% of the amount needed to finish the project.

Ivan lezuia, left, and Rele Garcia work on a scissor lift as construction continues at new Chapelstreet campus in North Aurora.
  Ivan lezuia, left, and Rele Garcia work on a scissor lift as construction continues at new Chapelstreet campus in North Aurora. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Ultimately, the new campus will be a welcome addition. Before the COVID effect on church attendance, Chapelstreet would average between 2,500 and 3,000 attendees across all campuses over a weekend. Now there is a mix of in-person and online attendance.

It all illustrates how the pandemic has undoubtedly affected local church services and attendance. We haven't been back to our parish, St. Peter Church in Geneva, just yet. But the remodeling project there has been completed, and parishioners are gathering in what amounts to a new church. It reopened cautiously after the total shutdown during the height of the pandemic. Attendance has been allowed under some safety guidelines and rules.


A food adventure

It came upon me on a Friday night -- a desire to try a sandwich from Knead Urban Eatery at 131 S. First St. in St. Charles. So, I glanced at the menu online.

Having no idea what mortadella, hot coppa, volpi salami, basil aioli and other ingredients were on one sandwich option, I figured the fried chicken sandwich choice would be fine. And I would know what I was eating.

Unfortunately, when arriving at the restaurant, a sign on the door said it was closed because of a family emergency. So, first and foremost, let's hope it was nothing too serious and that everything is OK on the Knead Urban Eatery front.

It sent me off on the hunt for another option, and almost like my car had a food sensor on it, we ended up at bella European Bistro at 3843 E. Main St.

The new business came about from the DRM European Café & Delicatessen closing, rebranding and moving east to this spot in the Target retail center area.

The bella club sandwich saved the night. This excellent sandwich featuring rib-eye steak, smoked ham and turkey, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato on a fresh-baked roll was a great choice. Both Knead and bella European should click on my radar in the future when something inside me calls for a sandwich.

A heavenly green

Rick Bell, a longtime golf instructor in this area, had been in touch with me fairly consistently the past month or so. He informed me about his battle with leukemia but had a positive outlook and was planning on teaching again this summer at Prairie Landing in West Chicago and some other area courses.

Each time we talked, I mentioned a few nagging problems I was having on the golf course, and he offered sound advice.

Though I knew he was not healthy, it was shocking and sad to hear Rick passed away last weekend. He was one of the first golf contacts I had in this area as a sports editor in the late 1970s when he was an assistant at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles with then-pro Dennis Johnsen.

Ultimately, Rick started writing his weekly golf tip column "Tee to Green" for me, illustrating that he was a deep thinker about this game that calls for mental skills as much as swing skills.

You have to believe he's simply hit his last approach shot on this Earth and landed right on that heavenly green. Rest there in peace, my friend.

Martin as Marley

A vision of a former alderman comes to mind when reading about the St. Charles City Council making the needed adjustments -- as in dropping the city statute that kept elected aldermen from holding a liquor license. It allows Blue Goose Market owner Paul Lencioni to take the Third Ward seat he won in the April election.

Some aldermen are now looking to have the state ease up on its statute that calls for council members holding a liquor license to refrain from any votes on liquor-related issues. The law makes sense to me and may even protect the city in that rare legal twist that can occur, but that's a debate for another time. My vision is of the late Jim Martin, the "Iron Man" of the city council as the longest-serving public official in city history. He also was the holder of a streak that will likely never be broken -- maintaining perfect attendance during his 36 years on the council for a tally of 1,031 consecutive meetings.

Martin died at age 83 in March of 2017. But in this vision, he comes back to haunt the council like a Jacob Marley without the weight and chains of a shady business career. If anything, Martin would come back with a banner across his chest stating, "No liquor."

Martin, knowing full well his no votes, wouldn't make much difference in many cases on requests for liquor licenses but voted no every time. He wanted to keep his conscience clear and serve his Fourth Ward constituents, whom he claimed were generally against more liquor and bars coming into St. Charles.

Martin has to be looking down upon us and wondering how the rules could be bent now to allow a potential conflict of interest to arise with most any topic in which liquor was an aspect to consider. He'd come down and wail like Marley did to get Scrooge's attention. And then he'd flash that great smile of his and shrug his shoulders in knowing city officials were going to do what they felt they needed to do -- and that his views on liquor never were close to that of his colleagues.


Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.