There were plenty of other things Lenora Turner could've been doing on a sunny weekday rather than helping set up the bookstore in her church's...
There were plenty of other things Lenora Turner could’ve been doing on a sunny weekday rather than helping set up the bookstore in her church’s new building.
But there she was this week unloading boxes of books, surrounded by hundreds of other volunteers, staff members and construction workers painting, cleaning, moving — all in preparation for Sunday’s opening of Christian Faith Center’s Federal Way campus.
It’s a big move for a big church.
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Christian Faith Center, the nondenominational church co-pastored by Casey and Wendy Treat, is one of the state’s largest congregations, with average weekly attendance of about 8,000 at two campuses in Mill Creek and SeaTac.
About 10 years ago, church leaders realized its 13-acre SeaTac campus wasn’t going to be big enough to accommodate growth.
They believe the new Federal Way campus will. At roughly 50 acres, church leaders say it’s the largest church campus in the state, with buildings that will include the main sanctuary, offices and a K-12 school.
The approximately 219,000-square-foot main building — twice the size of the SeaTac building — includes a sanctuary that seats 2,500 and can be expanded to seat 4,500. The building also houses separate youth and children’s churches, a bookstore, administrative offices, a media production center that — among other things — translates services into Korean, Russian and Spanish, a cafe and two espresso bars. It’s “a new phase of influence and opportunity,” Casey Treat said.
That vision — of the church reaching more people in the Northwest — was what inspired Turner to help her church move from its SeaTac campus, which is closing, to its new home.
“I wanted to be part of what our vision is,” said Turner, 43, of Tacoma, who co-owns a Web design business and has been going to Christian Faith Center for 24 years. “It’s important to participate. It’s not just sitting on the sidelines cheering the team.”
That spirit of taking positive action in day-to-day life is likely the factor that most accounts for the church’s growth.
“It’s empowering,” said James Wellman, a University of Washington assistant professor of comparative religion who specializes in American religion. “It’s really down to earth. It’s practical. It’s what you can do each and every day to feel the power of God, the favor of God, the blessings of God. The underlying, implicit idea is: You obey God by allowing God to bless you. …
“This is evangelicalism with a happy face,” Wellman said.
30 members at start
The Treats, who met while attending Seattle Bible College, started Christian Faith Center about 27 years ago with 30 members who met in the gym foyer of the Seattle Christian School.
In 1983, they opened the SeaTac campus. Some years ago, church leaders began seeing people drive into the campus’s 500-space parking lot for Sunday services and leave when they couldn’t find parking. That’s when they decided the church needed more space.
Developing the Federal Way campus, purchased from Weyerhaeuser, had its challenges.
Some neighbors lobbied the city to reject the move, worried about traffic such a megachurch would bring. While that didn’t happen, the city is putting in some traffic mitigation, said Neal Beets, Federal Way city manager.
The city has built a barricade so people exiting the church’s 1,670-vehicle parking lot can’t go through a nearby residential street. The city is also requiring the church to pay for police officers to direct traffic on Sunday mornings.
When the Federal Way campus opens its doors Sunday, people will see “the building is different, but what we’re doing is the same,” said Casey Treat.
That means ministries and classes geared to specific groups, including infants, teens and parents. It means fellowship and Bible study through hundreds of small groups throughout the Puget Sound area.
Most of all, it means a “straightforward teaching of living a positive life practically,” according to Shannon Cassaday, 37, a homemaker who moved with her husband and children from Pennsylvania to Federal Way in 2000 to be closer to the church after watching the Treats weekly on TV for two years.
Turner, the volunteer who helped with the bookstore move, first went to the church years ago hoping to develop her relationship with God. She had grown up Christian and knew a lot of Bible stories. “But I didn’t know how they could help me. I loved the stories, but I needed to know: How do you live this?”
The church’s teachings helped bring such stories to a practical level so that when she walked out of church, “I knew then whether I could do it.”
And they’ve inspired her to pursue her talents: voice-over work, stand-up comedy, starting a Web business with her husband.
“I knew growing up you’re supposed to believe in God,” she said. “But I had never heard of believing in what God could do through me. That I had gifts and talents and to find out what they are, and I could do great things with them.”
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
If you go
Christian Faith Center’s South Campus in Federal Way holds its first services Sunday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., 33645 20th Ave. S.; 206-824-8188, www.caseytreat.org.