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A Wandering Church Finds Its Home

Fairfax church braces for construction of a new church building.

When Springfield resident Inece Bryant was looking for churches, she was impressed with The Kings Chapel, a nondenominational church meeting in Fairfax City. At the church, she was particularly struck by its minister, Bill Jeschke, who would eventually become such a close friend that he even donated his kidney to her last summer.

"Bill is a really real person. He's very up front with you. He's a great teacher," Bryant said.

Bryant said that she thinks the plans to expand the church by constructing a new church building would help not only the current congregation but those looking for a church home.

"I think it's great. I can't wait. ... I've seen the plans, I like the plans," Bryant said.

Within the next month, the congregation of The Kings Chapel anticipates breaking ground for a new church building at Braddock and Doyle roads in the Clifton area.

Church members, who currently meet at Fairfax's Lanier Middle School on Sundays, see the move as a step toward their dreams of expanding the church and becoming a church that plants, or forms, other congregations.

"It gives you a home. A place to worship the Lord, to set up house however you want," Jeschke said.

Constructing a 16,000 square-foot new building would be a major step for the 400-member church. The church began meeting in Jeschke's Oakton home a little over eight years ago, moving to Lanier shortly afterward. Church attendees hail from Vienna and Oakton to Fairfax, Chantilly and outlying areas like Reston and Springfield.

The proposed design calls for developing a maximum of five acres on the 10-acre lot at 12925 Braddock Road. It would include an auditorium that seats a little over 400, classrooms, parking spaces and a kitchen.

Although church members have said they enjoyed using the Lanier Theatre, having a new space would allow the church to expand its activities without worrying about restoring the rooms they use after each Sunday service.

The additional rooms would also allow the church to strengthen its teaching programs and furnish the chapel in such a way that it would serve as a "visual witness and reminder," Jeschke said.

Furthermore, the extra meeting space would enable the church to move its popular Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) program to the church, and it would allow the church to start recovery groups.

"I think that our purpose is to build a facility that will serve the needs of the local community and our church membership," said Kurt Kuykenndall of Oakton, an elder of the church. "It'll provide a home for effective service."

Bolstering the church's decision to move is a proposed renovation that would occur to Lanier in spring 2005, pending the passage of a Fairfax City bond referendum in November. Church members hope that the time they can move to their new building will occur at the same time when they will have to leave because of renovations.

The church anticipates construction to be completed in nine months. Estimated construction costs are around $4 million.

It's "just the availability [of a space] that we'll have more of," Bryant said.