Ultimate Faith Christian Center in Bolingbrook hopes to move to a larger space to better suit its growing congregation.
The center, which currently operates out of a storefront along W. Boughton Rd. near Tailgater's, looks to move to a vacated Walgreens property at the corner of Janes Avenue and 83rd Street. The Bolingbrook plan commission will vote to approve or reject the move at a meeting Wednesday.
The move has raised the ire of some Woodridge Patch readers, who fear the church's move will bring "drug addicts, ex-cons and the homeless" to their neighborhood. In specific, readers raised concern about community safety and the proximity of "drug addicts and ex-cons" to Woodridge's Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park.
Readers point to perceived threat to their safety based on a mission statement on Ultimate Faith's website that the church's "mission is to minister to those that have been given up on, the homeless, ex-offenders and those with addictions to teach them the word of God."
Ultimate Faith is "not a threat to anyone," said George Guilford, pastor and founder of Ultimate Faith. "We are upstanding Christian citizens."
George Guilford, pastor and founder of Ultimate Faith, said that mission statement was crafted 10 years ago. While his church will serve any person who enters the church who has struggled with these issues and minister to him or her, the church does not "load up a bus-load of criminals."
Most of his 70-person congregation have children. They're business owners or white-collar workers, he said. They travel from Naperville, Joliet, Woodridge and Aurora.
Guilford said his ministry has changed hundreds of lives. Ultimate Faith has traveled to homeless shelters and the south and west sides of Chicago to distribute Bibles and minister to people. Just one success story: a woman in the congregation who was previously homeless is now buying a home.
Ultimate Faith has operated previously out of a beauty shop on Frontage Road in Bolingbrook and out of the Bolingbrook Park District.
"We've never had any complaints, and we've never had any disturbances," Guilford said. "There are houses right behind (our current location), and some of the people who live in the houses behind us come to the church."
Guilford said he has been homeless and was in prison. "But that's the old me," Guilford said. After he became a Christian, "the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I felt that God had saved me and delivered me from all my demons, and my misery had become my mission."
Now he has founded a church, become a minister and his children (Bolingbrook High School grads) are attending college on full-ride scholarships or performing academically at the top of their class, he said.
Ultimate Faith hopes to move to the former Walgreens location as soon as possible, Guilford said, and install carpeting, a sound system and a stage.
"It's a church," Guilford said. "It's not going to have a strip club."