By JASON GONZALES
Printed with Permission
Port City Community Church is going back to the days of hosting its congregation at a school – at least in the Leland area.
The church, which announced its plan to expand into Brunswick County in February, will begin gathering Jan. 8 at Belville Elementary. Services will be held at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. every Sunday.
Before moving to its location on 250 Vision Drive, the church known as “PC3,” met in the auditorium of Roland-Grise Middle School and in movie theaters.
Leland Pastor Jeff Winchester said he isn’t sure when the church will gain a true home in the area, but is happy about the expansion into the community.
“Now we can have this church in an area many love … And we don’t have to cross the bridge,” said Winchester.
The location will have a live band and broadcast a live feed from the church’s Wilmington location.
Winchester said he hopes the church will create another reason residents can relate to each other – that is, besides the bridge.
“This puts the church in a position to be able to care for Brunswick County residents and do it more effectively,” he said. “People like to congregate and be in their community, and this is a way to get this church to the community.”
The opening is a culmination of a year’s worth of work for the church.
The church put together a survey a year ago to see where its attendees were traveling from, Winchester said. The Brunswick County area became a key target area for the church, with many of its residents traveling 35 to 45 minutes to get to the Wilmington location.
“I advocated for this area,” he said. “It’s a fast-growing community.”
In June, the church held a volunteer sign-up to get the area ready for the church. About 100 people volunteered, Winchester said, and he hopes to see about 300 people show for the first gathering.
The church will join a host of other non-denominational churches in the Leland area and a number of churches that use a school for services.
The district has seven other churches using its facilities, according to Stephen Miley, the district’s director of operations.
The church will use the elementary school cafeteria and gym from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday for $985, according to a facility-use application. The contract is in place for up to 24 months, and includes the cost of a custodian.
“They have been tremendous community partners,” spokeswoman Jessica Swencki said. “They have even purchased chairs for the school.”
And helping the community is key to what Winchester said the church is trying to achieve.
“The big picture is to get the community engaged,” he said. “We feel that the church is critical to that success.”
Winchester said the church is looking at the feasibility of expanding into other areas as well.
Jason Gonzales: (910) 343-2075
On Twitter: @StarNews_Jason
* Religion News Wilmington partners with The StarNews.