(Photo: Elevation Church)
One of North Carolina's largest churches is looking to expand in response to continued growth, bucking the national trend of decline in religious affiliation in the United States.
Elevation Church, a multisite megachurch centered around Charlotte, is looking toward building a $20 million facility in Ballantyne for its administrative staff, as well as a 1,500-seat sanctuary.
In addition to this, the Charlotte Observer reports that Elevation is also considering several sites in Huntersville for what would be its eighth campus.
Tonia Bendickson, director of outreach and communications for Elevation, told The Christian Post that the cause of the success goes in part to the leadership of Elevation, which was founded and presently headed by Pastor Steven Furtick.
"Pastor Steven is a phenomenal leader and we are united behind the vision God gave him as a staff and as a church to reach people in Charlotte and all over the world for Jesus," said Bendickson.
Bendickson also told CP about the "Banner Years" campaign, a capital campaign that has raised the funds to advance these expansions.
"Our church leaders gave $4.4 million dollars two weeks ago during the 7-week long Banner Years campaign. The rest of our church had brought that number up to $5 million before Sunday," said Bendickson.
"That number is still being tallied and will be released during our Christmas worship experiences starting this Thursday."
In a message available at their website, Furtick explained that the "Banner Years" campaign was not about "building a church for our own benefit" but rather "designing a movement for the glory of God."
"Seven years. Seven locations. Thousands of lives changed and families restored, millions given back to our city. And week in and week out, people far from God being raised to life in Christ," said Furtick. "We believe God is just getting started. He wants to do more in and through the people of Elevation Church than we could ever imagine."
Founded in 2006 and noted for having contemporary worship with conservative theology, Elevation Church began with a single campus at Providence High School in Charlotte with about 120 regular attendees. By November 2010, the church had added three additional campuses so as to cope with its growing number of worshippers. In 2011, another two campuses were added to Elevation.
Elevation is not the only congregation in Charlotte that is growing at a rate sufficient to consider expansion. Saint Matthew's Catholic Church, a 30,000-member strong parish located in southern Charlotte, is eyeing a 34 acre property in Waxhaw.