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This Sunday a growing Moneta church is going to the grocery store.
On Sunday, Oct. 17, the old Shoprite building at the corner of Va. 122 and Hendricks Store Road will come back to life as EastLake Community Church holds its first service at the renovated building.
The church purchased the building, located at 1118 Hendricks Store Rd., in July. The building has undergone a complete transformation in the ensuing three months — everything in it is new — and is now ready for its grand opening celebration.
“We feel like we’re adding to the community by renovating that corner,” stated EastLake CC Pastor Troy Keaton. “I think it’s a win-win, for us and for the community.”
For the church, the new facility provides more than 21,000 square feet of space — 12,500 in the old Shoprite building and more than 9,000 in the adjacent strip mall that was also purchased. And Keaton hopes the facility will become a community gathering place for Moneta residents.
“It meets our needs and it does something significant on that corner for the community,” Keaton said of the move. “We’ve always dreamed of having a facility that is a community connection center.”
The church, which has been meeting just down Va. 122 from the new location since it opened four-and-a-half years ago, purchased the new buildings from Smith Mountain Lake Development Corporation this summer. The new facility will allow the church activities to meet on one campus — its ministries have been spread out across several buildings in that area for the past few years.
“We explored renting it, but realized the feasibility of fixing it up wasn’t worth renting, so we bought it,” Keaton said of the old Shoprite building. When it opens on Oct. 17, it will feature a 300-seat auditorium, an office wing, a kitchen, a state-of-the-art children’s center, a nursery and several classrooms. It will also include a spacious foyer with an area set up for coffee. During the week, Keaton said that area will be open for people to come in, sit down and take advantage of a free WiFi connection and coffee.
F & S Construction of Roanoke is the contractor for the renovation and church members have also been volunteering their time to help with some of the work.
“It’s accessible, it’s visible, and it’s going to be functional,” Keaton said of the new church. “It’s not a cathedral. That’s our personality and philosophy. We’re going to use it to build the kingdom of God.”
The adjacent strip mall features five units, three of which are currently rented to local businesses. Those will be maintained and the other two units will be used as the Teen Thirst teen worship center and for extra classroom space.
“This allows us to grow,” Keaton stated, adding that it will also take care of parking issues that the church has had at its current facility. “It will allow us to be on one campus instead of spread out several places. It will allow us to offer more to the community. It will serve as a launching pad for reaching the entire Lake community.”
Getting to this point has been more than a two-year process for the church congregation. In fact moving from the Va. 122 location was something that was anticipated by the church leaders when the church first opened in February 2006.
“We’ve had a vision for a new facility from the beginning,” Keaton stated.
That vision began to take shape in March 2008 when the church purchased 10 acres of property about a quarter mile down Hendricks Store Road from Va. 122. In March 2009 the church embarked on a capital campaign to raise funds to build a new facility on that property.
Designs were made, permits were secured but then several delays and unanticipated expenses occurred, something Keaton said is now seen as “the hand of God” at work in the plans.
The church then set its sights on purchasing the unfinished Sunset Cay business center across Hendricks Store road and did everything it could last fall to make that happen. But that didn’t work out. The church leadership then called for a time of prayer the first three weeks of January of this year.
“We stopped and fasted and prayed for three weeks about this year and about the future of our church,” Keaton stated. “It was shortly thereafter that out of the blue this building became available to us. We say that is a direct answer to the time of prayer and fasting that we had in January.”
And the ongoing work has generated lots of excitement in the community. Keaton said just about every day area residents drive through to take a look. Many times they stop and ask about the work that is going on there.
“Many of them are very excited that something’s being done with that building,” Keaton said.
And for the church, the move will help further its mission to the community.
About 63 people from Parkway House of Prayer in Roanoke left their home church to plant EastLake Community Church at Moneta in February of 2006. “We knew that God had given us a vision to reach the Lake community,” Keaton said. “We have always pursued that vision. We knew that would include a new facility at some point.”
The move is needed.
“God has helped us to experience steady growth over the past four-and-a-half years,” Keaton said. “Our congregation is now of a little over 250 people and we give God the praise for that. We’ve done that in a very limited facility.”
In fact, this summer the church began holding three services in order to accommodate all of those who wanted to attend. It will return to holding two services at 8:30 and 11 a.m. on Sundays in the new facility. Sunday School classes will meet at 9:45 a.m. Once in the new facility, the old church will continue to be used for ministry until it’s sold.
Keaton said EastLake also wants to plant other churches, starting with the southside area of the Lake. The goal is to reach the unchurched or lost.
“We’re not very fancy,” he said, adding “that means taking a simple approach, doing what God honors and staying kingdom minded, trying to do everything with excellence.”
“We think it’s all about people and it’s all about God. We love people and we love the Lord. That’s really what we’re all about — our vertical and our horizontal relationships,” Keaton stated.
Keaton said the church is open to those unchurched who would be seeking a church home.
“We want them to know that they are welcome,” Keaton said. “We are normal, ordinary people who would love to welcome them into our church family.”
Grand Opening events
• The Grand Opening service will be held on Sunday, Oct. 17 with two services at 8:30 and 11 a.m.. There will not be Sunday School Oct. 17, but that will resume at 9:45 a.m. on Oct. 24. There will be a concert the evening of Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. featuring the Collingsworth Family.
• On Oct. 22 there will be a ribbon cutting followed by a luncheon for the business community. That evening there will be a community-wide open house from 5-8 p.m.
• There will be a Family Fall Fun Festival on Sunday, Oct. 31 including games, trunk or treat and fun things for children and families from 4-8 p.m.
• On December 16-19, Thursday through Sunday, EastLake Community Church will hold its Christmas celebration which will include a dessert dinner theater.
For more information call 540-297-0966 or visit the church Web site at www.elcchurch.com.