Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Church buys land near Wichita-area dog track

April 3, 2007

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— A church says it has purchased land near Wichita Greyhound Park, and says it will use the land to expand its ministry for people with gambling addictions.

The Rev. Terry Fox, pastor of Summit Church, said Sunday that the congregation raised enough to buy one acre of land near the Wild West World Amusement Park, which is across the street from the greyhound park. Fox would not give an exact cost, saying the church paid between $2 to $10 per square foot for the property.

The announcement came just days after state legislators approved a casino gambling bill, which would allow slot machines at horse and dog tracks. If it survives an expected court challenge, the bill also would allow casinos in Sedgwick or Sumner counties, Wyandotte County, Crawford or Cherokee counties, and Ford County. Local voters must approve the casinos and slots first.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has said she will sign the bill.

Summit Church wants to buy an additional five acres on the Wichita-area site and is adding a Christian psychologist to other efforts to help people with gambling addictions.

"This church is about helping hurting people," Fox told his congregation, which has been meeting at the amusement park's Johnny Western Theatre for about six months. About 900 people attend the church.

Fox said the church could break ground on a new building before the end of the year.

Fundraising began in December, and an anonymous donor pledged a matching grant up to $1 million for every dollar raised.

"We bought a presence," Fox said.

Butch McDaniel, a member of Summit Church, said he supports the church's efforts to help people with gambling addictions.

"It just seems like we're in the right place at the right time," McDaniel said.

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