By Jessica Brodie
LEXINGTON—A huge new space is allowing one Midlands church to reach more souls for Christ.
Mount Horeb United Methodist Church recently completed an 82,000-square-foot expansion project on its campus that includes a 67,303-square-foot new dual-purpose building for the church’s thriving contemporary services; a new 1,800-capacity auditorium for ministry and worship; a space for leisure ministry and children’s ministries; a kitchen for fellowship meals; and 15,293-square-feet of repurposed space in the former gym and family life center that has become a student room and café for the congregation’s thriving youth program.
On July 24, Mount Horeb held their first worship service in the new contemporary space, and already, the church is seeing a major spike in attendance—which is exactly why they initiated the project.
“Prior to opening, we had 700 for contemporary worship for Saturday night and Sunday morning services, but the first weekend for the grand opening for contemporary worship alone, we had 1,400 in contemporary worship in the 9 and 10:45 a.m. services, and a total 2,200 in worship combined counting the traditional services,” said Senior Pastor the Rev. Jeff Kersey.
The church now has five services on Sunday mornings; they decided to lose their Saturday night contemporary service in favor of two Sunday contemporary services (9 and 10:45 a.m.) and three traditional services (8, 9 and 10:45 a.m.).
Kersey said attendance wasn’t just strong that first Sunday; since then, they’ve seen significant growth in attendance. In their first new members class after they opened the building, they took in 69 new members.
“We felt like if we could build a venue that was devoted to contemporary worship that the folks would respond to that, and they have,” Kersey said, laughing as he noted, “It’s great to know it wasn’t a mistake.
The building had a temporary opening in June to accommodate the 2,000 children who attended Mount Horeb’s vacation Bible school. The first meal they served was to a group of Next Step youth—100 kids from all over the Midwest who came to do mission projects for Mount Horeb.
Kersey said the fact that children were the first to use the space was not fluke.
“That’s what we are about: reaching the children,” Kersey said.
Then the building shut down again to finalize construction. In July, prior to the grand opening July 24, the church came together to circle the building in prayer and spend 72 hours (July 17-20) reading Scripture day and night to seal the building in God’s Word.
“That really tells you who we are and why we do what we do,” Kersey said.
The new space was designed to be large without sacrificing warmth or acoustics, and Kersey said they hurdled both of those obstacles well. The first concert in the new facility will be Jeremy Camp, who performs Oct. 2.
Now, Mount Horeb is settling into their new space, kicking off small group season and wrapping up their three-year capital campaign, which is thought to be the largest campaign in a South Carolina UMC. Kersey said they are 2.5 years into the campaign, and the congregation has already given $9 million in pledges and more in furniture and fixtures.
“The response has been outstanding, and we hope to meet our goal, $10.8 million, in the next six months,” Kersey said.