(Photo courtesy Clemson University)
An academic institution based in South Carolina has expressed concern over a proposed expansion of a fast-growing megachurch.
Officials at Clemson University have remarked that NewSpring Church's plan to build a new campus near one of their facilities was a source of concern.
According to local media, the focus of worry involves a 30-acre piece of property found nearby Clemson's International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville along Interstate 85.
NewSpring intends to construct a 1,400-seat church, naming the latest addition to the approximately 26,000-member congregation the Millennium Campus.
Cathy Sams, chief public affairs officer at Clemson, provided The Christian Post with a statement regarding the matter.
"We believe that all parties are obligated to comply with the agreed-upon covenants for development that apply to both CU-ICAR and Millennium Campus," reads the statement in part.
"We have many partners and investors, including the city and state, who expect the site to focus on education, research-driven economic development and job creation. While we certainly support NewSpring's expansion into Greenville, it seems that this location might not be the best fit."
Sams declined to comment further to The Christian Post regarding the specific concerns Clemson has with the NewSpring expansion.
"Clemson University isn¹t responsible for the development of the Millennium Campus or city zoning pertaining to the property, so as this is not a university matter, we do not plan to comment beyond what we have said previously," said Sams.
NewSpring Church's offices are closed from Friday to Sunday. Suzanne Swift, central communications director with NewSpring, told The Christian Post that NewSpring Church's Head Pastor Perry Noble could not be reached for comment by press time.
Swift nevertheless provided The Christian Post with an interview Noble had Thursday with WYFF Channel 4 News.
"Since we launched multi-site, we've gone from 7,300 to right now averaging right under 26,000 people a week," said Noble.
Regarding the apparent controversy with Clemson, Noble told WYFF that "We weren't looking for a fight."
"I wasn't even aware of honestly any controversy when we started looking at the land and when I found out about it, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh,'" said Noble.
"So it's really our desire that we could not only obtain that piece of property, but be the best neighbors to Clemson University, and Hubble Lighting and the TD Bank -- and just to be the best neighbors possible."
Founded in 2000 and with a main campus in Anderson, NewSpring Church has expanded to include six additional campuses since 2008.