WATERVILLE — At a time when some churches are losing members, Pastor Craig Riportella says his church is experiencing just the opposite.

Since he became lead pastor at Calvary Temple on West River Road in 2006, the number of parishioners has grown significantly, as has the number of students attending its school, Temple Academy.

Seven years ago, the church had a congregation of 40 people and now it has 300; Temple Academy had 70 students, he said.

“We’re looking at 200 students next year, which is the most we’ve ever had.”

To accommodate that growth, Calvary more than two years ago launched a capital campaign to build a new multiuse building on the property, to be used not only as a church, but also as a day care center, offices, gymnasium and community meeting space.

The 13,000-square-foot, two-story building with a 600-seat auditorium on the second level also will have a coffee shop open to the public, according to Riportella.

“We really want to be a church that serves the community in all those areas, and we really don’t have the space to do that,” he said.

On Monday, Ken Lamoreau, of Sheridan Corp., will present preliminary and final building plans to the Planning Board.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at The Center downtown. The board will consider the proposal under the city’s site plan review ordinance.

“If they have everything that the Planning Board needs to see, they (board members) could give their final approval,” City Planner Ann Beverage said Thursday.

Beverage said four letters of approval are needed — from the city engineer, the Kennebec Water District, the Waterville Sewerage District and Fire Chief David LaFountain — and all but LaFountain’s letter have been received. All three letters say they have found no problems with the plan, she said.

Riportella said if it is approved, Calvary officials hope to break ground on the project in August, start building in the fall and complete it in the summer of 2014.

Calvary is an Assemblies of God church whose members are from various denominations.

Its 3-acre site on West River Road has three buildings: the nondenominational school, Temple Academy, which houses students in kindergarten through grade 12 and whose students are from 22 denominations, including Catholic, Evangelical, Baptist and Lutheran; the Wee Count Daycare and Preschool, which is licensed for 29 children but will be able to have 80 when the new building is constructed; and a parsonage, which houses the church staff.

Temple Academy recently was accredited by New England Schools and Colleges, said Riportella, who also serves a superintendent of the school and oversees both the school and day care center.

The day care building, built in the 1960s, is scheduled for demolition as part of the project, according to Riportella.

The church and the school employ 40 people, he said.

The front of the new building will have a lot of glass and face West River Road.

“It will kind of almost look like a community center,” Riportella said.

The facility will have a youth and children’s wing, including an area for teens with a juice bar and games. An indoor playground similar to the former downtown Inside Out Playground will be open to the community during the week, he said.

Riportella is the chaplain for the city police and fire departments, and the church has hosted free banquets for the Fire Department. He said another reason for expanding is to provide space for groups to meet, including a support group for people battling addictions. The church also provides space for a boxing program for troubled youth.

Riportella said he came to Calvary in 1993 after he got out of college. He spent a couple of years there and then left, but returned in 2006.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

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