Wellspring Anglican Church will be the fourth church to use the old J.S. West furniture store in downtown Modesto.
The 35,000-square-foot building "is the original site of our family's business, which opened in 1909," said Jill Benson, West's great-granddaughter, who oversees the lease arrangements.
The company's furniture store closed in May 2002 and J.S. West's business offices moved out in early 2003. Dominion Christian Center took over the building in March 2003 and stayed until August 2005, when the leaders and several members moved out of state. Shelter Cove Community Church was there for nearly two years, from September 2005 through July 2007, while its present building on Coffee Road was under construction. Crosswalk Community Church moved in after Shelter Cove left; the small congregation moved out two weeks ago to share space with another small downtown church.
"We're glad to have (Wellspring)," Benson said. "They're a great group of folks. My great-grandfather was a very religious man, a very conscientious man, and I think he would have been pleased."
St. Paul's preschool plans to stay at its site on the St. Paul's campus. The school, which has 82 children from 3 to 5 years old, closed for the year two weeks ago.
"We'll still be here," said Carol Mazkind, preschool director.
The preschool was founded by the church 29 years ago, but in recent years it has had its own board under the general oversight of the church.
"I hope they will stay there and continue to function as they have for years," said Bishop Jerry Lamb of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, which will assume ownership of St. Paul's in late June. "It's been a wonderful place."
Other ministries will move with the congregation.
Bible Study Fellowship, a nondenominational group that offers Bible study groups around the world for men, women and children, held its Modesto women's evening class at St. Paul's for more than a decade. Teaching leader Becky Austin said the group of 224 women and 33 children, plus 12 children's leaders, has accepted an invitation to move to Wellspring in the fall.
"We're excited," she said.
Family Promise, a faith-based program for temporarily homeless families, and Royal Family Kids Camp, a summer weeklong camp for abused children in foster care, also will continue through the Wellspring church.