Heartland Community Church worship leader Doug Thiesen has every reason to smile.
"We're excited about moving to this location of Rockford, not only because of the landmark status of Colonial Village mall, but it really puts us in the center of the city," Thiesen said.
Saturday morning, leaders announced the plans that had been months in the making. Heartland Community Church, outgrowing its Perryville Road location, is moving into the old JC Penney at Colonial Village. In the next year, the roof will be redone, pillars will be taken out, and a church family will begin a new journey.
"When you walk in here you can’t believe how big it is, and yet we're going to work real hard to make it as intimate as we can, as comfortable as we can," Mark Bankord said.
Meanwhile, business owners in Colonial Village are thrilled about their new neighbor. Workers at the Swedish Pancake House sense only good things, especially with portions of a 3,000 member congregation always nearby.
"Well, we're excited. We'll be bringing in more business, and it can only be good. It's been so empty in here for so long, and I think it will be good for everybody, Bergner's, our place. I can't see any negatives to it," Tuti Dalip said.
The 125,000 square foot area Heartland will use is more than three times the space of their current building, and though the move will cost millions, Heartland's staff is ready to expand their facility and expand their spiritual reach.
"Heartland is a different way to do church, so bringing the church to Colonial Village Mall just kind of plays into what has been our way of operating all along, but the bottom line, we want to give people hope in their lives," Thiesen said.
A church set to take on a new livelihood, in a place not typically associated with worship, but with a worship team excited to make it work, and have its congregation reach new heights.
Heartland Community Church expects to be ready for worship in this new location next fall. When the renovation is complete, Heartland Church will have added two auditoriums, offices, children's ministries, and a book store in the old JC Penney.
Leaders tell 23 News that 100 percent of the current unused space will be used by Heartland Community Church.