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Growing God’s kingdom

Last week, I wrote my third story in five months about a church that has outgrown its current meeting space and needs to expand.

CrossPointe Freewill Baptist Church, led by Pastor David Sexton, is under contract to purchase an old funeral home and bring new life within the building’s walls. The young church began meeting at a hotel a year and eight months ago, and its weekly attendance has increased from a handful of families to 80-100 people who come regularly.

“The Lord’s giving us a lot of new families,” Sexton told me during our interview. “We’re excited about getting our own building. Once we get into our own building, we want to do a whole lot more.”

The church sought a new building for several months before finally deciding on the old Sidney F. Harrell Funeral Home on Pruden Boulevard. Only City Council approval of the conditional use permit request, set for a June meeting, is left before the church can officially purchase the building and begin using it for meetings.

“Hopefully, our church won’t be dead,” Sexton joked to me last week.

Apparently, it’s not. The church is alive and well, as evidenced by the fact that it had to seek its own meeting space.

Two other churches have come through the Planning Commission in recent months, requesting permission to build or expand their facilities to accommodate more of God’s people during service times. In January, I wrote a story about Southside Baptist Church, located at 917 Carolina Road, wanting to expand its facilities. The church already holds three services on Sunday mornings to accommodate all its members and guests, and needs still more room.

Pastor Stewart McCarter at Southside compared his church’s expansion to the Biblical story of a widow who was running out of oil, and a prophet instructed her to go find as many containers as she could.

“As long as she had containers, the oil kept flowing,” McCarter said. “She filled up every container they provided.”

Southside’s leaders clearly are praying that if they provide the container, the Lord will provide the people.

Likewise, East End Baptist Church on East Washington Street has maxed out its available space for weekday ministries, including its child development center, voice and instrument lessons, choir and praise dance team practice, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and more.

“There’s something going on every day,” Pastor Mark Croston told me back in March.

In addition to the need for more space, the current building is about 84 years old, and Croston said a newer building would help them serve the community better.

“It will be easier for us to expand in a more modern facility,” he said.

It is encouraging to see that these churches apparently are doing the right things in order to bring more people into the kingdom of God, and that those people are coming and staying in church. I’m praying that they will continue to bring more people in — and keep them there.