EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 17, 2013

Two church projects before Windham boards

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM — Two religious groups have projects before town boards for approval.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have approached the town about establishing a Kingdom Hall for worship at 10 Libby Road.

Meanwhile, Crossing Life Church is seeking a variance to use a property at 122 and 125 North Lowell Road for church purposes.

Conservation Commission members briefly discussed the Jehovah’s Witnesses project last week before concluding they didn’t have enough information to act.

The group has informed the town it has a purchase-and-sales agreement for 10 Libby Road.

Elder Mike Paciello said the Kingdom Hall would serve Jehovah’s Witnesses from Windham, Derry, Londonderry and Salem.

He estimated there are as many as 250 to 300 worshippers in those communities.

“We are still very early in the planning,” Paciello said.

Crossing Life, which had held services at Windham High School, has purchased the Taylor Farm property on North Lowell Road that includes a former bingo hall.

“Crossing Life Church proposes to use the property for church purposes including a parish house and (school), and to enjoy other uses which are customary and incidental to a church on this property,” a public hearing notice said.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is holding a hearing Tuesday.

The area is zoned as a Neighborhood Business District, which does not allow the church use.

A posting on the church’s Facebook page said it started services at the property in September.

Launched in Windham in 2005 by Pastor Shawn Foster and his wife, Stephanie, Crossing Life has grown to include churches in Maine and Holland.

The pastor did not immediately return a call about the church project.

But a posting on the church website said the church has never had a permanent home in Windham.

“For many years, we here at Crossing Life Church have been meeting in schools, day care centers, and people’s homes and for many years we have dreamed of the day when we would finally settle into a church building ‘home’ of our own,” it reads.

The church website also said the project includes the Windham Crossing Learning Center, with a daycare, preschool and kindergarten.

The Fosters ran unsuccessfully for town office in 2012.

Shawn Foster ran for School Board. Stephanie Foster ran for the Planning Board.