When the Rev. Craig Giles became pastor of Triumph Baptist Church in Sewickley 27 years ago, his congregation numbered about 40.
The congregation now has 400 members, and the landlocked, 106-year-old church has nowhere to grow.
"I've heard from a number of people, 'I can't wait until your church moves so I can come,' " Rev. Giles said.
They have been waiting since 2004 when plans for a new worship site were announced, but they won't have to wait much longer.
The congregation is constructing a new building off Mount Nebo Road in Ohio Township.
James Jackson, church project manager, said the $3.5 million multipurpose building will be ready for occupancy in April.
Triumph Baptist's current buildings -- the church at Frederick and Ferry streets and two nearby houses that are used for offices or programs -- have either been sold or are up for sale.
Although Triumph Baptist is primarily an African-American congregation, Rev. Giles hopes the move will allow the church to attract all races and cultures.
"We want to reflect what we believe the kingdom of God looks like," he said. "We want to be a multicultural place where people of all colors and cultures can come and worship."
The multipurpose building is the first phase of the church's construction project. The next phase will include a new sanctuary, Mr. Jackson said.
The multi-purpose building is 18,000 square feet with "parking galore," he said. The current church is 2,500 square feet with no parking.
"We are landlocked, obviously, and we have zero parking. We are using the parking spaces on the street, right in front of neighbors' houses. They have been very gracious to allow us to park there on Sundays," he said. "But growth is stymied. People come to the church to visit. There's no place to park. They end up riding around, then going somewhere else."
Mr. Jackson said the congregation, which saw the need to relocate in 2004, purchased the Ohio Township property and began raising the funds necessary to build.
Construction began in April 2012. The building has a roof and three walls are up. Mr. Jackson said they hope to have the facility completely closed in this week.
Timing for the second phase will depend on how the church grows in its new location, Mr. Jackson said.
Rev. Giles said he hopes the larger building will allow the church to expand its current ministries and add others, including possibly collaborating with Ohio Township.
"The building is really nice and the facility is really great, but what is most important to us is we try to minister to the community," he said.
The church currently offers a health care program, financial literacy, youth group, Girl Scouts and a food sharing program.
A new gymnasium will allow for additional youth and senior citizen programs and for the church to hold health fairs, Rev. Giles said.
"It will allow us to really reach the heart of families," he said.neigh_north
Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published January 17, 2013 10:15 AM