Five core families from California, several relatives from the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area, and a few new friends met in a residential community clubhouse on Easter Sunday, 1994, for a Bible study. It was the first step in launching a new church.
Nearly twelve years later more than 3,500 people gathered in early February, 2006, to dedicate a permanent meeting place for Hope Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Senior Pastor Mike Lee says he never dreamed of the huge facility and multi-faceted programs that now serve the growing Grace Brethren congregation, which is one of the largest in the Fellowship.
His wife Laura, however, has always envisioned what the church is now experiencing. She directs the children’s ministry that provides separate, secure meeting areas for hundreds of children each week with programs that are planned for specific age groups.
The nearly 90,000 square foot building was dedicated February 5, 2006. It includes a 1,450-seat auditorium which Lee states is not the sanctuary. He tells his congregation that the sanctuary-where God dwells-is in the hearts of the people. He emphasizes that the church is not a building; it is the people who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The building merely facilitates the church’s ministry to the community.
Hundreds of volunteers were recognized at duplicate dedication services in which Executive Pastor Dave Patchin noted, “this is merely the end of the beginning.” He and Lee encouraged the congregation not to dwell on the blessings and progress of the past but to look to the future. “Not only has God been good,” they noted, “but He is good all the time.”
Music Director Karl Moraski introduced an original song that honored Lee and his faithful leadership in following God’s guidance to plant this new church. From a small committed group at that first meeting to a congregation exceeding 3,000 each Sunday, this exciting church continues to offer hope with uplifting worship, solid Bible teaching, and need-based small groups available to the larger Raleigh-Durham-Cary community.
Among the guests at the dedication were Ken Seyfert of the Grace Brethren Investment Foundation, which financed the new addition.
Pastor Mike Lee will be one of the featured speakers at this summer’s Brethren National Youth Conference in California. For more information about the Raleigh church, log on to www.gethope.net.