Growing church breaks ground for expansion

Sean C. Morgan

While Harvest Christian Center has broken ground on the first part of its planned expansion, the church also opened a second campus in Corvallis.

Harvest Christian, which broke ground last month, is planning to expand its building at 4231 Long St. by nearly 13,000 square feet to accommodate a growing membership and provide room for additional growth. In about two years, the church membership had grown from 75 to 200. The expansion includes a new sanctuary, with a loft area for additional seating.

The Planning Commission approved the plans in May.

But the church’s parent organization, the Church of God, International Offices in Cleveland, Tenn., “said we do not have enough classrooms to accommodate the new sanctuary,” said Pastor Mark Woody.

The church will need to add four classrooms, expand the fellowship hall, remodel the kitchen, upgrade utility infrastructure and pave the parking lot.

“All that has to be upgraded before we can build the new building,” Woody said.

While finalizing plans, the church became involved in revitalizing a sister church, Victory Christian Center, in Corvallis.

“We’ve always wanted to open a second campus,” Woody said. The denomination has no church in Albany or Lebanon.

“They asked us to take it over,” Woody said of the Victory campus. The Church of God has donated funds to redo the exterior, carpeting, signs, to revamp everything.

The Corvallis church closed in October and reopened in November as Harvest Christian Center, Corvallis Campus, Woody said.

The Corvallis church had an attendance of about 10 people, Woody said. “But we’re expecting growth. We have to believe with what God’s done here.”

The building has sound equipment and most instruments, Woody said. “It just needs new life. We want to show signs of life. It’s exciting to us because we get to reach out beyond the limit of our walls.”

Sweet Home members are going there and helping out with the music and other programs, Woody said. As the Corvallis Campus grows, local members will take over those positions.

“It really was a quick process,” Woody said. “Two weeks from the time we found out, and we were there.”

In Sweet Home, Harvest Christian recently welcomed co-pastors Craig and Julie Shilts to the college and career program, aimed at the 18-25 age group.

“That’s an area we didn’t have covered,” Woody said, and that’s an age where people are just learning about the world.

Other pastoral staff, in addition to Woody and his wife Wendy, are elders Jimmie and Cathy Nelson, Gary and Karen Duncan and Darrell and Nellie Davis, youth pastors Bob and Lisa Sharp and Children’s Pastor Beverly Simmons.

The new program focuses on life skills, applying lessons to mundane activities, such as changing oil.

Harvest Christian Center service times are 9:30 a.m. for Sunday School; 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. for Sunday morning service; and Wednesday, 7 p.m. The church is located at 4231 Long St.