After almost a year of construction and several years of planning, Calvary Church is opening its 51,000 square-foot Calvary Life Center.
The new building, designed to complement the imposing five-story, crown-shaped building on the corner of Rea Road and Pineville-Matthews Road, will house ministries and programs that the older building can’t accommodate.
"Calvary's new Life Center will greatly enhance the ministries and outreach of Calvary Church, particularly as they relate to children, students and sport ministries,” said Calvary Senior Pastor John Munro. “In a society where biblical values are declining, this new opportunity keeps Calvary's vision alive as we reach out with Christ's love and truth."
The church's sanctuary, which was dedicated in 1989, is designed to seat 5,000. The adjacent building also contains classrooms, offices and a large day care.
Calvary Church Executive Pastor Scott Vail admits that the 23-year-old space is not the most aesthetically pleasing for young people. And it can’t hold youth and children’s ministries that are now drawing hundreds each week.
“God has blessed our growth in spite of it,” Vail said.
Calvary leaders have kept the new building under lock until today, when it will open throughout day for tours. The CLC is filled with spaces that are modern and interchangeable.
“We’re trying to get the maximum use, maximum flexibility,” Vail said. “We want to make sure no space is wasted.”
The building has few hallways, and classrooms can be divided into smaller rooms if necessary.
Vail points out the many uses of the CLC’s large gym, which is marked for basketball and volleyball courts. A heavy, motorized curtain will divide the gym in two, allowing for separate activities on either side.
A theater on one side of the gym can house a puppet stage or full theater production, and the gym’s durable floor can handle chairs set up for an audience. Squares marked on the floor for Awanas, a weekly children’s Bible program, can accommodate the church’s overflowing program.
The building is designed to attract the “next generation,” youth and children who are now packed into the original building during meetings and classes.
The CLC has two large auditoriums, which are decorated in blue, lime green and black to appeal to younger people. Nearby are a game room with large screens and game consoles, classrooms, vending and food service areas. All of the rooms are accessible to people with disabilities.
Some parts of the building are filled with comfortable chairs and tables, and outside the CLC’s front door is a half-circle shaped area covered with artificial turf where church leaders hope teenagers will hang out.
“We’re hoping and praying when our teens come after school, they’ll invite their friends,” Vail said. “This might be their first exposure to the church.”
That hope is part of the building’s larger purpose to house the church’s own growing ministries but still reach out to the community.
Church leaders already have scheduled exercise classes for seniors in the CLC, and the church can now expand its Champ Sports outreach ministry to include winter sports such as basketball and volleyball.
They’ve also booked conferences for the center, which the church previously couldn’t host because the original building didn’t have the right size spaces.
Giving from the church’s congregation already has paid off much of the $9.6 million cost of the building. Vail said the church loaned $2 million to itself to pay for some of the balance.
In the end, the building will come in several hundred thousand dollars under budget and on time, Vail said.
“We are absolutely amazed at the grace of God and his blessings,” he said.
For information about Calvary Church and the CLC, visit www.calvarychurch.com.