Citrus Heights Sentinel Logo

Christian school to open at site of abandoned church in Citrus Heights

Citrus Heights United Methodist Church operated at 7833 Highland Ave. since 1961. It is now to become a Christian school. // M. Hazlip

By Sara Beth Williams–
The shuttered building that was formerly a United Methodist Church now has a new tenant, with a grand opening slated for September 1. Faith Christian Academy, a private school associated with First Apostolic Church of Citrus Heights, began leasing the abandoned building on Aug. 1, 2022.

Citrus Heights United Methodist Church operated for more than half a century on Highland Avenue before shutting its doors.

Kenneth Sullivan, lead pastor with First Apostolic Church, which is located down the street on Highland Avenue, said United Methodist congregants left over a year ago during the pandemic and dispersed among other United Methodist churches. The building attracted many homeless people who lived around and behind the building. Finally, a chain link fence was erected across the front of the property.

James Champlain, a school administrator with Faith Christian Academy, said the building had boarded-up windows and a chain link fence surrounding it for so long, he began inquiring about the building with the United Methodist Headquarters. After two weeks, he was able to discuss the possibility of renting. The academy now has a twelve-month lease on the abandoned building, with an option to buy after the first year.

“It was a dangerous place before,” Champlain said, mentioning the discovery of illegal drug paraphernalia and stolen bike parts inside the building when they arrived. Cleanup is underway and volunteers in surrounding neighborhood and from the academy have helped with renovating anything that was broken due to vandalism, cleaning up trash and debris, painting, and replacing carpets and flooring.

“They left everything from candlesticks to choir robes to desks,” Champlain said, noting that much of it was broken by vagrants breaking and entering.

Along with clean up, Sullivan said the academy is renovating an existing educational wing that houses several classrooms. The academy is working with the City of Citrus Heights and Sacramento Metro Fire to bring the building up to code by installing fire extinguishers and fire alarms.

Faith Christian Academy was established in 1976 and operated as a pre-school by Champlain’s mother-in-law. Since then, it has expanded to more grade levels, and this year they are moving students from seventh through twelfth grade over to their new campus in the former Methodist church building.

Champlain said elementary grade students will remain at the original campus, which is located less than a mile down the street. Total enrollment so far for the 2022-23 school year has reached 130 students, 40 of which are in seventh through twelfth grade.

In opening a new campus, Faith Christian Academy is now able to “provide a pathway for children to graduate high school within the academy,” Sullivan said, noting that the academy needed to expand to a new campus due to “overwhelming enrollment.”

Existing middle school teaching staff will transition to the new campus along with middle school students. As well, new personnel have been hired, including high school teachers, a new middle school principal and a new high school principal.

Faith Christian Academy will have a community grand opening for their new campus at 7833 Highland Ave., at 7 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Food and a snow cone machine will be on site, and Champlain said anyone is welcome.

The new school year at Faith Christian Academy will begin on Sept. 6, 2022.

Like local news? Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam, ever. (Click here)