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Church Plans Youth Center at Former Kaufman’s in Wheeling as Services Move to Capitol Theatre

June 21, 2018

WHEELING - A growing Vineyard Church is moving its Sunday services to the Capitol Theatre beginning this fall, and that is also why the church has purchased the former Kaufman's Building across the street.

The church has an expanding number of youths in its congregation, and Lead Pastor Chris Figaretti said he hopes to turn the Kaufman's Building into "a children's wonderland" for the younger members of the church. There are also thoughts about renting out other areas in the building for commercial space in the future.

Figaretti said the church isn't entirely sure of its exact plans for the structure. While it has had an inspection conducted to make sure the building is structurally sound, but there has not been an economic feasibility study.

Article Photos

The former Kaufman’s Building on Main Street in downtown Wheeling soon will become a youth center for the Vineyard Church as it plans to move its services to the nearby Capitol Theatre. The church purchased the vacant structure last week. Photo by Joselyn King

"We are at the beginning of process," he said. "We knew we needed to get the building. If we didn't, we knew we wouldn't have options later."

Vineyard Church has a core congregation of between 1,200 and 1,500 people, according to Figaretti. It currently o!ers two services each Sunday - one at the church located at 647 Warden Run Road, and the other at the Marquee Cinemas at The Highlands.

The services will merge into one at the Capitol Theatre likely beginning in September, he said. There will be a grand opening Sept. 30.

"This works out well for us, and gives us room to grow," Figaretti said. "The

issue now is as we grown, we will run out of children's space. We needed a place to put children as we grow."

The church still will keep its building on Warden Run Road for operations during the week, including youth ministries.

"It's just that our number of youth has outgrown the youth area, and there isn't enough seats," Figaretti said. "They will move up to the adult area."

Figaretti said the reason Vineyard Church is growing while others are losing membership is that it reaches out to those who feel "disenfranchised" from religion.

"We are intentionally going after people who don't go to church," he said. "We provide a place where they can ask questions, learn and actually enjoy church. It's a place where they can come and grow."

Figaretti cited statistics indicating there are 114,000 people within 10 miles of downtown Wheeling, and about 12,500 of these people attend church regularly.

"We're going after the 100,000, not the 12,000," he said. "We're reaching for people disconnected from God, and hoping to make that introduction."

He said the church in the future may look to establish satellite campuses in St. Clairsville, Weirton or Washington, Pennsylvania.

Figaretti praised those at the Capitol Theatre for being "wonderful to work with." Manager Dennis Magruder was not available for comment Tuesday.

Figaretti said he is torn about what to be more excited about - the future of the church, or its rehabilitation of the Kaufman's Building.

He described himself as a "renovation guy" who restored his own historic home in Woodsdale.

"The opportunity to get in on the downtown renaissance excites me," he said.

"But I'm excited about what we can do with the church even more."



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