Local Church Finds its “Sanctuary” in Business


Pastor Anthony G. Maclin and the Sanctuary at Kingdom Square has a model for success many other churches in the area just don't have. It has its own mall.

"I think it's a good thing that people know that they can come somewhere where they can trust you," said Shelley McClain, owner of Just 4 You and Spa Health & Wellness Center.

In Prince George's County, a place hit hard by the recession, especially in the foreclosure realm, Sanctuary has avoided the financial difficulties which plague many houses of worship across the country. It's managed to do that by becoming a business.

The Sanctuary at Kingdom Square is located at the former Hampton Mall shopping center in Capitol Heights. What used to be a shopping center where Ames was the largest retailer is now a powerful financial engine for the church.

It has a Home Depot, Staples, Goodyear Tire store, IHOP, Bally's Total Fitness and A&W/Long John Silver's as far as chain stores go. However, that's not the only businesses there.

The Church has not only helped itself with the shopping center but minority business owners as well, through Kingdom Management, the company which oversees the Mall properties and its Chief Operating Officer William Trent. It has a number of small businesses in the facility and many of those tenants are pleased to be a part of what Maclin is building.

One of those tenants is Wanda Childs, owner of Blessed 24:7. She moved from a tiny storefront akin to a walk-in closet to a fully-functional space. She says she's been able to do it by faith and because the mission of the church is aligned with her spiritual goals as a Christian.

"There were other options on the table – other establishments I could've entertained, but God said come here," Childs said. "I don't particularly know if it was Kingdom Square or if it was the Sanctuary, but God specifically said 'come here'."

Childs was still wary about moving into the new space, which just opened on June 15, but said that Kingdom Management helped to assuage her fears. "It was difficult and there was more praying going on," she said. "As we were signing the lease, Kingdom Management was at the table praying over me."

It's a relationship that may be different from the average tenant-landlord situation you may see but Fatmata Nyelenkeh, owner of Fati's Hair Braiding, says it's still business at the end of the day. "No I don't see a difference between having space here or somewhere else," Nyelenkeh said. It's the same to me."

Nyelenkeh said the economy has slowed some of the customers she received from the congregation, but she's still doing well.

McClain had a beauty salon in Clinton, but moved to the Sanctuary after Pastor Maclin personally suggested she open the salon at the facility. "Where we came from, we had a salon there and I knew Pastor was going to want a salon here so I told him I'd be willing to help you get this up and running," McClain said. "He said to me, 'How about you do it'?"

At the time she didn't want a second location, but after discussing it with her husband she became convinced that it was the right move to make because of the opportunities it provides for local residents. "This helps the community," she said. "It offers the community different services we didn't have. I think it's a really unique way of offering church as well as jobs, stores, and retail places that they can go into as a family.

The Sanctuary at Kingdom Square is located at 9033 Central Ave, Capitol Heights, Md. 20743. For more information, visit www.atthesanctuary.org.

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