Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday, will get off on a celebratory note with a "Party on the Patio" on Palm Sunday afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. This won't include cocktails and hors d'ouevres, however. But plenty of water will be in evidence because the church will be holding a baptismal service. Between 100 and 200 candidates for baptism will line up for the sacrament administered by Pastor Benji Kelley in the outside baptismal pool.
The baptismal pool is strategically located in front of the building for worshipers entering services to walk by on their way to the worship center and be reminded of their own baptism, which is considered a defining moment in the life of a Christian in which each person makes vows and is plunged beneath the cleansing waters in the same way John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. The large pool is the kind of feature an architect might call “water interest” with its spouting streams of water on two levels built into a stone edifice with the name of the church on the side toward the parking lot.
At newhope, Pastor Benji and others pastors wade into the waist-deep water and in groups of 3 – 4, give each believer a good drenching in the symbolic waters - full immersion for adults and sprinkling for babies.
“We dedicate infants and young children,” said Amy Lynn Kelley, Children's and Family Ministries pastor. “This is a special part of our baptism celebrations as parents commit to raise their child in the ways of Christ and partner with the newhope community of faith to bring that child to the decision to trust Christ as their personal savior one day. We have a baby dedication parent orientation to prepare parents for this celebration.”
This will be the largest number of baptisms at one time for the nine-year-old church, organized in Chapel Hill and named the 10th fastest growing congregation in America last summer in a survey by Outreach Magazine. Sunday attendance at newhope's two campuses -- central campus in Durham and a second one in Garner -- averages more than 2,000 worshipers.
Following the Party on the Patio Baptismal Celebration will be an Easter Egg Hunt for kids through the 5th grade beginning at 4:30 p.m. with more than 3,000 colorful eggs stuffed with treats, hidden around the church campus. A family devotional and prayer guide related to Easter eggs will be distributed to families to give parents the opportunity to tie this event to the resurrection of Jesus.
In addition to the hunt, live bunnies and chicks will be available for the kids to hold as well as for photo opportunities for families. The egg hunt at the Garner Campus will be held at noon on Easter Sunday. A special invitation is extended to kids and parents in the Triangle area.
The regular Sunday morning worship celebrations will be held on Palm Sunday at 8:30, 10:10 and 11:45 at Central Campus and on the Garner Campus at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m.
The two Good Friday services on April 22 at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. at Central Campus only will be traditional Tenebrae services, which translates to a service of shadows and darkness since this is the night after the crucifixion of Jesus and his body has been placed in the tomb. The cross in the worship center will be draped with a black cloth. This service may also include Holy Communion.
The Sunrise service on Easter Sunday will be held at 6:30 a.m. in the parking lot area at the Central Campus only. It will include special acoustic music that is more reflective and intimate as well as a message by the pastor.
Afterward, coffee along with muffins and pastries will be available at the Higher Grounds Cafe in the rotunda of the church.
Regular worship celebrations at 8:30, 10:10 and 11:45 a.m. at Central Campus will have a heavy celebratory focus on the resurrection of Christ and his power to change lives. A new Celebration Choir composed of 50 men and women will make its debut in these services. Not a traditional choir, this group of musicians is expected to become a part of future celebrations.
Easter Sunday celebrations at the Garner Campus are at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m.
The message of Easter at newhope is that Jesus is alive, says Pastor Benji Kelley. “As a result, the message is for the forgiveness of sins and the hope in the Gospel and power of Christ to change lives,” he said.
Visitors to all of the church's services and events are always welcome and are encouraged to visit the church website at www.newhopenc.org for more information, service times and directions.
Come to newhope expecting the unexpected and you won't be disappointed.
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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.