Long-vacant land on Lake Worth Road in Wellington to become church

3:21 p.m Friday, March 2, 2018 Local
This piece of land on the southwest corner of Lake Worth Road and Barefoot Lake Drive is the future home of Christ Community Church, formerly Wellington Presbyterian Church.

A long-vacant piece of land on Lake Worth Road will see new life after being purchased by a local church.

The land on the southwest corner of Lake Worth Road and Barefoot Lake Drive — west of Panther Run Elementary School — was sold last month to Christ Community Church, formerly Wellington Presbyterian Church.

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The church bought the land from Temple B’nai Jacob of Wellington for $1.25 million, said the Rev. Peter Bartuska of Christ Community Church. The temple purchased the land from Wellington in 2010 for $827,500, records show.

The 2.82-acre site will be the home of Christ Community Church’s new facility, Bartuska said. Construction could begin before the end of the year, he added.

The church previously owned a large campus on Wellington Trace, where for three decades it operated Wellington Christian School. An investor purchased that property from the church in 2014 for $9.5 million. It now houses Eagle Arts Academy.

After the sale, the church made a deal with the new landowner to rent space for three years. In that time, church leaders searched for a new place to worship, including a failed pursuit of Binks Forest Golf Club.

Bartuska said the church also looked at a piece of land along Okeechobee Boulevard in Loxahatchee Groves.

“But we really are a Wellington church, most of the people from our congregation live in the village, and it makes sense for us to be here,” he said.

The property came to his attention when he was jogging down Lake Worth Road and noticed the sign on the property had changed from “Future home of …” to “For sale.”

“That’s God’s sense of humor, really,” Bartuska said of the sign — both actual and symbolic.

His vision for the new campus is to create a space where the church can continue to engage the community, something it has made more of an effort to do since selling the Wellington Trace property. That shift is reflected in the church’s new name.

“So much of Wellington Presbyterian Church was connected to Wellington Christian School,” Bartuska said. “They were kind of tied together, and without the school operating, it seemed like it would be valuable to distinguish ourselves.”

The name change comes from “a desire for the church to be Christ’s church in the community,” he added. When the church operated the school, much of the ministry involved people coming to the church. Now, Bartuska said, the church goes to the people.

“The property is a tool for us to serve the community,” he said. “The vision for that property is to put stuff there that will facilitate those connections.”

An example: The new facility will have a generator, so when the power goes out, people in neighboring communities can have a hot meal.