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Megachurch to open soon in North End

Posted : 26 November 2013
Thulani Gqirana

PORT Elizabeth church Father’s House is moving to a new 3000- seater premises to accommodate its ever increasing flock.

The Richmond Hill church, which has been at its Stanley Street premises for three years, will make a new home for itself at the old builders trade depot, a 4000m² building in Patterson Road, North End.

Father’s House Pastor George Georgiou said the church would have a Christmas ceremony at the new premises before the official move in January.

He said the church consulted its members before making the decision.

“We had a trial event there, an evening of worship on a Friday night earlier this month with almost 2000 to test traffic flow, parking and how the numbers of people work in that sized venue. It was a good test and on that night we said to everybody this is what we are considering, please give us feedback in favour of, or opposing the move.”

Georgiou said the most complicated consideration was making the decision to sell the recently revamped Richmond Hill premises.

“Because it is a church building and there are neighbours to think of and zoning considerations, there is a lot to take into account before we sell it.

“As a church, we consider it our responsibility to take the neighbourhood into account when we decide who we sell to.”

Georgiou said the move had to be made because five services on a Sunday – to limit traffic – was simply too taxing, especially on volunteers.

“There is also not much growth potential because we knew we couldn’t do more than the five services and as they each approached full, we realised we have to look to the future.

“From a statistics point of view, we have been in this building for three years and in that time, each year of the three our numbers have doubled.

“So we had to ask ourselves, does the infrastructure in this area cater for that? What is our future plan? That’s why we tested the idea of a bigger venue.”

The pastor said it had been important to think clearly before making the decision because the bigger venue also changed the church experience a bit for the person coming to worship.

“It goes from 600 seats, which can feel intimate, to that venue, which will accommodate 2500 to 3000, which will make it in fact the largest seating place of worship in the city, which is sometimes referred to as a megachurch.

“So we knew it would change the worship experience a bit and we had to address that but in comparing the options of the fatigue of the volunteers and the stretched demand on their time, people were willing to compromise in order to have one larger morning service and one in the evening.

“We don’t want to overload the area and if we are in an area that will not be affected by that, that gives us an opportunity to make the venue available for NPOs and Christian-motivated events and also as a base for our social upliftment programmes.

“We have run out of space, so we need a place where foodstuffs can be kept for feeding schemes and clothes can be collected for charity, which we do here, but now space will be optimum.”

He said everyone at the church was aware that the current schedule was unrealistic going forward.
“We run children’s churches in four of those services, then there are bands and supervisors. It takes about 150 people to make Sunday happen.

“The enthusiasm of a growing church is wonderful but the commitment level expected starts to become quite high.

“So mostly for that reason and the [need] for growth, without infringing on the infrastructure of a small neighbourhood, was really a strong motivator for us.”

Georgiou said the church would definitely miss Stanley Street.

“But we have to think of the future and this building is fantastic.”

This is a version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, November 23, 2013.


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