Black Rock Congregational Church to break ground Oct. 8

Black Rock Congregational Church groundbreaking ceremony for its new church on Monday, Oct. 8, at 10 a.m. on the church property at 3685 Black Rock Turnpike.

A new home for the church, which has served the community for more than 160 years, will be built on the existing footprint.

The last services in the existing church will be on Oct. 14.

Construction of the new building — which will feature a larger Worship Center, a dedicated wing for children’s education, an expanded Welcome Center, two rooms dedicated for junior high and high school students, a café, a larger kitchen and a dedicated prayer room — will take place over the next 15 months.

During construction, Sunday worship services will be held at Notre Dame High School on Jefferson Street beginning Oct. 21. Weekday activities will be in First Presbyterian Church of Fairfield. The church offices will be in Stratford while the new church is under construction.

Ken Brix, executive director of Black Rock Congregational Church, said the church needed 160 volunteers to assist at Notre Dame High School on Sundays, and more than 450 signed up.

“We’re extremely excited that the church has embraced the need so enthusiastically, and we’re looking forward to engaging everyone in setting up and tearing down rooms as needed at Notre Dame,” he said.

Worship services at Notre Dame High School will be held at the same times as currently scheduled. The fourth Sunday service for young adults, called Sanctuary, will be held at First Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m.

The larger church will enable Black Rock Congregational Church’s pastors and staff to serve more people, Brix said.

“We see it as our mission to reach as many people as we possibly can for Christ, so the primary motivation is to have more space for more people to hear the Gospel,” he said. “Additional room gives us an opportunity to serve more kids in the Sunday school format, more youth in our junior high and senior high groups, and more boys and girls in our club programs. An entire portion of the new church is going to be dedicated to a children’s education wing.”

A total of 2,000 people currently worship at Black Rock Congregational Church during services at 8:50 a.m., 10:10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. The existing sanctuary seats 500 worshippers, and the new Worship Center will seat 950, Brix said.

Half of Black Rock Congregational Church’s worshippers live in Fairfield, while the remainder live in surrounding towns, including Westport, Trumbull, Easton, Monroe, Shelton, Stratford, Weston and Bridgeport.

The church supports, with financial donations and volunteers, nearly a dozen local ministries, including Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Operation Hope of Fairfield and Pivot Ministries in Bridgeport. More than 200 people a week volunteer in the church’s Urban Impact initiative, which involves mentoring and tutoring children in the PT Barnum Apartments and Longfellow School, both in Bridgeport. The church also holds a Vacation Bible School at Longfellow School in the summer.

The church spends $1 million a year to support more than 70 missionaries around the world. The missionaries introduce people to the Gospel, help build churches, teach English, and help people start businesses. Medical missionaries provide both medical and spiritual care.

The new church will be built in two phases. The first phase involves construction of a 53,000-square-foot first floor, while the second phase involves construction of a 17,000-square-foot second floor. The existing church is one floor and 33,000 square feet.

The new church will be about 15% smaller than originally planned and will be sited on the footprint of the existing church so it will not be obtrusive to neighbors, according to a press release.

Construction also includes adding a northbound and southbound turning lane on Black Rock Turnpike, intended to improve traffic flow, and the church’s plans have been approved by the State Traffic Commission and the Fairfield Plan and Zoning Commission. The church is also combining its two driveways into one driveway to help police more easily manage traffic on Sundays.

Black Rock Congregational Church, which moved to its current location in 1968 from the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, is a non-denominational church and welcomes people from all faiths and walks of life.

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