It's also the congregation that skyrocketed to national attention in late summer when it was named as the 10th fastest growing church in America.
Only nine years old, the church will hold Vision Day on Sunday, Jan. 30, to celebrate accomplishments during the past year and to set its course for the future. The congregation will pull out all the stops for a celebration that offers everything from Sumo wrestling and outdoor music to gifts for everybody.
Blaine Avery, a craftsman from Seagrove, will demonstrate the art of pottery and display a variety of his completed works as the church takes a look at the verse of Scripture: “You, Lord God, are our Father. We are the clay. You are the potter, we are the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
Worship will be held at the usual times, 8:30, 10:10 and 11:45 a.m. but in between worship celebrations, activities for all ages will be going on in the Rotunda and outdoors around the building.
This church has much to celebrate. During the past year, “God has worked mightily” to attract newcomers and new members, says Pastor Benji Kelley, and the congregation has begun to spread its wings, offering new ministries and innovative programs.
Its lively contemporary services, including music that raises the roof, attracts between 50 and 60 newcomers each week with an average attendance of 2,000. And during the past year, a total of 238 people have joined the church, including 109 baptisms.
This growth has sparked a 28 percent increase in giving, making it possible to add 15 new staff positions. The church opened a community playground in the spring, hosted an annual N.C. East District Wesleyan Conference in July with more than 350 pastors and staff attending, hosted The Global Leadership Summit in August with more than 250 pastors attending; and launched its first multi-site campus in Garner in September.
Other major activities have included the Tree of Hope donations during the Christmas season that was a huge success and blessed 1,000 families outside the church and 30 families in the church with a meaningful Christmas.
Organized in 2001 with a core group of only five, the church held its first gatherings in the Chapel Hill home of the pastor and his wife, Amy Lynn. The first congregational worship space was at East Chapel Hill High School, but later moved to an old church sanctuary owned by the Catholic Church, but available for rent, on Ghimgoul Road in Chapel Hill.
The next year, the congregation acquired 27 acres of land on Fayetteville Road in Durham and later added nine more acres to wait until the time was right to build a permanent campus. The pastor calls the acquisition of the land “a miracle,” because it was prime property located less than a mile from the Streets at Southpoint, the epicenter of growth in the Triangle.
In 2005, the Catholic Church sold the sanctuary to a Chapel Hill resident and newhope was on the move again. This time it was to a storefront on Garrett Road in Durham, a location near 15-501 and Duke University.
At this third location, the fledgling church witnessed amazing growth, both in numbers and in racial and socio-economic diversity. And all the while, the pastor and a core group of leaders and staff were working on a five-year Strategic Ministry Plan. The result was a plan to use all 36 acres and to build a 36,000 square foot Phase One building.
On Sunday, March 15, 2009, the congregation moved from Garrett Road to open the doors at the new Central Campus on Fayetteville Road.
As you might expect, Sunday morning at newhope is an assault on the senses with people swarming about the Rotunda, drinking coffee, browsing the book tables and signing the volunteer roster. On one side of the large area, thirsty folks file by the counter at Higher Ground Cafe where a buck will get you an espresso or a latte.
Picking one's way though the crush of the crowd is a challenge. It's not just the number of people, but the visiting and the talking among worshipers who are both coming and going and the upbeat music that has already begun in the worship center.
Like worship in other contemporary churches, amplified music with special effects lighting create an almost fevered pitch and a sense of anticipation.
With Bible in hand, the high octane pastor launches into his message, using no notes and referring from time to time to Scripture texts that are projected on the big screens. A gifted speaker and charismatic leader, he holds degrees from Duke Divinity School and Asbury Theological Seminary. His wife, Amy Lynn, also a Duke Divinity graduate, is pastor of the children's church.
newhope church warmly welcomes any and everyone to Vision Day this Sunday!
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Contemporary Christian Church with 9-year-old congregation and 2 campuses, in Durham and Garner, NC, named 10th fastest growing church in America by recent survey published in Outreach Magazine. Attendance around 2,500. Pastored by Dr. Benji Kelley.