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Faith-based intiatives

As church moves out of Newhall location, local Islamic center may have a larger space to call home

Posted: October 1, 2010 5:37 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2010 5:37 p.m.

A downtown Newhall building that used to serve as the U.S. Post Office is in escrow to an Islamic organization, several sources have told The Signal.

For the past 13 years, the building at 8th and Walnut streets has served as the Centro de Amor Christiano, a Spanish-language church that served the homeless in the area, said Pastor Guillermo J. Cevallos Sr.

Cevallos said recently he has a buyer for the sprawling 4,888-square-foot building, which still has four loading bays from the days when it was Newhall's Post Office.

Asked if the building would still cater to a Christian congregation, Cevallos said "no." The building is being purchased by members of a different religion, he said.

Asked if the new congregation was expected to be Islamic, he said: "Something like that."

Local Islamic centers
Members from one of Santa Clarita's two existing Islamic centers are apparently the buyers of the 8th Street building, according to the landlord who rents to members of the Islamic Center Santa Clarita Valley on Reuther Street.

"They broke off into two groups," said Jawahar L. Saini, owner of the center on Reuther.

"One group is here, and the other group bought a church in Newhall," Saini explained. "It's the one on 8th Street."

If the deal proceeds as planned, the new Islamic congregation on 8th Street will be just two blocks from the existing Islamic center on 6th Street called the Unity Center of Santa Clarita.

Newhall fixture
For the past 13 years, Cevallos and his wife, Amparo R. Cevallos, have thrown open their doors to the needy and down-trodden at the Centro de Amor Cristiano, a non-profit organization.

Interviewed briefly at his church Saturday morning, Cevallos said he and his wife will continue their Christian work - only at a different location in Newhall.

He said his church, the name of which translated means The Love Christian Center Church, was moving to a smaller building nearby where he and his wife would continue to care for the faithful members of their congregation.

"We take care of the homeless," he said, picking up trash from the heavy metal doors of his church, proudly noting that his church, through a program at UCLA, offers free dental care for parishioners.

None of that charitable work will cease, Cevallos pointed out - it just won't be happening at 8th and Walnut.

On weekends, several of his parishioners come to the sprawling former post office for a hot meal and a place to go.

In the next couple of months, congregation members will have to take a few extra steps to get to their destination.

Deal in escrow
All the land transfer paperwork for the 8th Street building has been filled out, said Realtor Bob Loner of Realty Executives Commercial Division.

"It's under contract, and it's now in escrow," Loner said.

When asked about details of the deal, he said all would be disclosed soon once the agreement passes escrow: "It'll be for a community assembly," he said, adding only that the buyers were local.

The 8th Street property is listed as having a total value of $594,668 at the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office.

"Once it transfers title, it'll all be public," he said.



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