Mark Gittens has always been about impact over optics. And while the $1.5 million his h2church plans to spend to purchase and renovate a high-profile Sunbury building is impressive, the impact of what can be accomplished inside the walls of the former Bimbo Bakery plant could be immeasurable.

Gittens announced this week plans for what he calls a “city within a city” at the former bakery along North 11th Street in Sunbury. The move marks a return to Sunbury for Gittens’ church, which was formerly housed at the Albright Center.

The project will be done in phases, Gittens said. The initial phase includes building a stage and seating, creating offices, a day care center and locations for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services and a child abuse center. Other phases will include a kitchen area, additional classroom space and whatever unforeseen outlets the ministry needs in the future.

“We are not trying to be impressive but instead we are trying to make an impact,” Gittens said. “That is something that is important to me and to our community.”

The facility will be a welcome addition to the city. The fact that h2church will rehabilitate an existing structure is a bonus. There were certainly locations in the city, and not too far from here, where the ministry could have built a structure from scratch, in their own image without the headaches caused by working with and in an existing structure.

Instead, the church will not only fill in a large space, it will do so right in the middle of the neighborhood, within walking or biking distance of hundreds of residents. 

“I think it is great to have this in a primarily residential section of town rather than in some industrial park,” Outgoing city administrator Jody Ocker said.

It is easy to envision the property becoming a community hub, where fellowship and help are available and accessible. It’s ability to potentially help vulnerable populations will be a key component we can all rally behind.

“We will continue to do what we can for the community and help as many people as possible,” he said. “This isn’t for show. This is for the betterment of our Valley and we are excited to be able to have the opportunity to help the community.”

We share in that excitement.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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