Construction of new Willow Creek Huntley church could begin this spring

  • Willow Creek Huntley plans to build a 43,000-square-foot new church on 65 acres of farmland near Huntley.

    Willow Creek Huntley plans to build a 43,000-square-foot new church on 65 acres of farmland near Huntley. Courtesy of Willow Creek Huntley

  • Willow Creek Huntley lead pastor Todd Katter says the church could begin building a permanent home near Huntley this spring.

    Willow Creek Huntley lead pastor Todd Katter says the church could begin building a permanent home near Huntley this spring. Courtesy of Willow Creek Huntley

 
 
Updated 1/17/2018 7:20 PM

The largest megachurch in the suburbs could break ground in spring on a permanent home near Huntley.

Willow Creek Huntley has purchased 65 acres off Huntley Road to build a roughly 43,000-square-foot church housing services for its growing congregation of 1,000 members, lead pastor Todd Katter said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The church launched in 2011. Members meet at Huntley High School's Performing Arts Center, which is converted each week for two Sunday services.

"We have been looking for land for a long time," Katter said. "Other than meeting in coffee shops and houses in the area, we have an office building on Route 47, which is 800 square feet. That's why we need this building."

Though the church is the early planning stages, "if things go well, we will be in the home in 2019," said Katter, 39, who has been with Willow Creek Community Church 11 years.

The new location will be much smaller than the church's main campus in South Barrington, Katter said.

Willow Creek Community Church, in its 42nd year with weekly attendance of more than 25,000, has seven regional locations including Crystal Lake, Lincolnshire, West Chicago and Wheaton. Each has its own lead pastor, staff members and programs.

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Willow Crystal Lake inaugurated a 193,000-square-foot worship space in downtown Crystal Lake in October. It is situated on a 25-acre campus catering to more than 4,000 attendees with room to grow.

The future Huntley site, east of Square Barn Road, is farmland purchased last spring for $350,000 from a new church member, Katter said. The land was valued in the millions -- a nearby property was priced at $4.6 million.

"They were incredibly generous. It was amazing," Katter said, adding the seller has requested anonymity.

Church members are raising funds for construction -- estimated to cost up to $15 million -- without help from the mother church. A Feb. 11 community event at the high school will feature Bears linebacker Sam Acho.

"We are excited to expand our outreach to serve the needs of the local community in a greater way," Katter said of the church's partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and the Grafton Food Pantry. "We certainly hope this (facility) will serve us better. At some point, we would love to see a care center there where we can do more outreach."

Willow Creek's Care Center in South Barrington provides help with basic needs such as food, clothing, job training, transportation, health screenings, and English as a Second Language services.

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