1,100 families strong

There’s suddenly a lot more room at south Charlotte’s Calvary Church, after the newest addition on the Pineville-Matthews Road campus was unveiled this weekend. The Life Center includes a full-sized gymnasium equipped with a theatrical stage, two large auditoriums, gathering spaces and 24 classrooms on two levels. Church officials hope the addition will give them the room they need to get more people in the door as well as create safe, fun opportunities for kids after school.

At Calvary Church, visitors have always been welcome, though there might not always have been space for them. But that’s not the case any longer, thanks to the newly completed Calvary Life Center.

The 51,000-square-foot Next Generation project broke ground just more than a year ago at the church – an addition to the towering building at the intersection of Pineville-Matthews and Rea roads. With a full-sized gymnasium equipped with a theatrical stage, two large auditoriums, gathering spaces and 24 classrooms on two levels, the large structure comes with a $9.6 million price tag – paid for by pledges and donations from families within the churches congregation.

“There is no interest because we haven’t had to borrow any money from the bank,” said Scott Vail, executive pastor and project manager. “One of the neatest things about our fundraising is that about 1,100 families participated in giving to this. We didn’t have a single donation over $500,000.”

The structure comes and was designed with children and student ministries in mind. With a greater emphasis on discipleship and training in student ministries, Vail said the church has grown the number of middle and high school students from 60 to more than 300 in just five years. The new facility provides space and sanctuaries for both middle and high school services, as well as preschool ministries. The church’s elementary-age ministry will continue in the old facility, with renovations soon to come.

Vail said the new addition will start a great outreach initiative within the children and student ministries since the new facility provides more space for friends and families.

“This facility is going to attract more families and students combined,” he said. “Once you get about 80 percent full (in attendance), it really stagnates the growth. If you increase the space, it’s more welcoming for visitors. Visitors need to see there is space for them.”

With the new space also comes several additions to programs and outreach options for the church. The new gymnasium enables the expansion of Calvary’s CHAMP Sports Outreach to include Upward Basketball, as well as expansions of other programs such as summer vacation Bible school at the church.

“In our old facility, children’s programs like (vacation Bible school) were maxed out,” Vail said. “We’re excited to have more opportunities to reach more people for the kingdom.”

The new facility also allows the church to incorporate some new programs and initiatives like an adult volleyball program, college ministry open gym nights and an after-school hangout location for students. With wireless Internet throughout the entire building, Vail said the church is excited to open it’s doors Monday through Friday after school from around 3 to 6 p.m. With a recreational game room, Vail said he hopes to see students from the church invite their friends for some casual bonding time outside of school.

“It’s just a great way to build community in a little bit more-structured environment,” Vail said.

The church unveiled and dedicated the new facility Sunday, Nov. 4, where attendance was high and many showed excitement for the new expansion.

“We really didn’t do an unveiling until Sunday, so most families hadn’t seen it before,” Vail said, “and to see the students and kids’ faces was just amazing. They’ve never really had a place of their own. They were just awestruck.”

Vail said the church, which typically sees between 3,500 to 4,000 people every weekend, is excited to see more growth in their future, utilizing their facility for the gospel, he said.

“There are programs that God hasn’t even shown us yet that we can use in coming years. We are just so grateful in this economy to know the Lord provided.”

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