Community Church of Issaquah building goes up for sale

July 24, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The brick-and-stone building along Southwest Mountain Park Boulevard on Squak Mountain, longtime home to Community Church of Issaquah, is for sale, as the congregation searches for a smaller space for worship.

Community Church members — including some members in the current congregation — built the church building in the late 1960s, but the Rev. Keith Madsen said the congregation must adapt in order to continue.

“At one time, we had 300 to 400 people, a large youth group and many other things, back in the ’80s,” Madsen said. “Now, it’s gone through a series of hard times.”

The space is too big for the 40 or so regular congregants. Maintenance on the 45-year-old building is also left to volunteers in the aging congregation. Madsen estimated the Community Church congregation’s average age at 75.

Members plan to use the proceeds from a sale to purchase or rent another, smaller space for worship and use any leftover funds for ministry efforts, such as relief missions abroad and community service projects nearby.

“We figure if we are going to go out, we’re going to go out without a bang,” Madsen said.

The congregation initially listed the facility for $3 million and later reduced the price to $2.7 million. The building sprawls across 16,941 square feet across the street from St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Community Church gained attention in recent years as a host location for Tent City 4. The homeless encampment settled on the parking lot behind the church in August 2007, January 2010 and October 2011. The camp — and about 100 residents — remained at Community Church of Issaquah for 90 days during each stint.

“It’s a congregation that’s been historically very active in caring for the community and people in need,” Madsen said.

The announcement to sell the Community Church building prompted tenants at the facility to reconsider plans for the future.

Building tenants include another congregation, Mountain Creek Christian Fellowship, and the 50-year-old Issaquah Cooperative Preschool. Organizers started operating the preschool from the church in 1986.

“As one of the users of the Community Church of Issaquah building, we’ve been informed along the way of their plans,” Issaquah Cooperative Preschool member Barbara Hill said. “Our plan is to stay put as long as we are invited to do so.”

The preschool confirmed plans to operate at the church through the 2012-13 school year.

Like the Mountain Creek congregation, preschool leaders said the intent is to remain on the site, even if the facility sells.

“Should the church sell, we would work with the new owners with the hope of continuing to serve families from the same classrooms we occupy now,” Hill said.

The Rev. Mark Miller, leader of Mountain Creek Christian Fellowship, said the congregation is unlikely to purchase the facility.

Community Church representatives asked if the Mountain Creek congregation was interested in purchasing the building, but Miller said the listing price is too expensive for the group. Miller said Mountain Creek also suggested a possible partnership in order for Community Church to remain in the space.

In the meantime, Mountain Creek’s lease at Community Church is in place for another year even if the building sells.

“We’ve never had our own building and don’t plan to,” Miller said. “If something fell into our lap, that’d be great, but we just need the use of a place. We’re making some inquiries to find out what options would be open to us.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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