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December 12. 2012 8:14PM

Londonderry church eyes move to new home


With shovels in hand, members of the Orchard Christian Fellowship joined local construction crews in the "official" groundbreaking at the site of the congregation's new Londonderry church last month. Church pastor Ken Glazier is pictured on the far right. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)
LONDONDERRY - Bowing their heads in prayer as they stood on the edge of the Pillsbury Road apple orchards, members of the Orchard Christian Fellowship celebrated new beginnings one morning late last month as they broke ground on the site of their future church.

Construction recently began on the 5,800-square-foot church, which will include a 100-space parking lot.

Pastor Ken Glazier said the goal is for the 325-member congregation to move into their new home by July 1, though weather would ultimately dictate the construction timeline.

Until the move is complete, the congregation will continue holding its Sunday worship services and Christian education programs at the nearby Matthew Thornton Elementary School, with a 9 a.m. public worship service and 10:30 a.m. classes held each weekend.

"We're so excited to be taking this step of building our first facility," Glazier said, noting the fittingness of the scenic site, lined with aging apple trees on the edge of Mack's Apple orchard and overlooking the town's historical society complex.

"The orchard is all about people growing in the faith in God, so it will be great seeing this property used for a harvest of a different sort," he added.

Parishioner Lee Carvill, who serves on the church building committee, said the finished facility would seat up to 300 people and also would feature a lobby area, an office and a nursery.

The church contracted with the Hudson-based Northpoint Construction Management in generating a site plan while preserving the parishioners' wishes to keep many of the site's fruit trees intact.

Orchard Christian Fellowship was formed in 2008, following a much-publicized split from the nearby Londonderry Presbyterian Church.

The newer church is affiliated with the New Wineskins Non-Geographic Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church .

Members of Presbyterian Church USA ultimately were awarded rights to the antique chapel on the corner of Mammoth and Pillsbury roads, but a settlement entitled the Orchard Fellowship to the 15-acre lot next door. The newer church then launched an extensive capital campaign to bring them closer to building a facility of their own.

Soon, the two congregations will be neighbors once again: any hard feelings apparently having dissipated.

On ground-breaking day, several dozen members of the local Presbyterian congregation were spotted among the crowd, and members of both church choirs have since worked together at various interfaith services.

"This day is about coming together," Glazier said at the ground-breaking.

Updates on the construction process will be posted regularly on the church's Facebook page, The Orchard.

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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com.

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