With continued growth and demand for their ministry, Church of the Highlands, Alabama's largest church, launched their first out of state campus in Columbus, Georgia, just 45 minutes away from another campus it expects to launch in Auburn, Alabama, on Sunday.
“We are one church that meets in locations all across the great state of Alabama and now just across the border in Columbus in the Phenix City, Alabama, area,” founding Pastor Chris Hodges first announced in his Aug. 11 sermon.
The expansion, according to the leader of the 18-year-old megachurch, comes as the church continues to ground its ministry in prayer through a program called “21 Days of Prayer” which the church engages in twice a year. Its current prayer effort started on Aug. 4 and will end on Aug. 24.
“Honestly, I was telling our team, it just kinda shows the spiritual hunger that is out there. People are looking for something real and they are looking not to connect with a church but to connect with a very living God and we’re having an amazing time,” Hodges said of the excitement for the prayer effort in his Aug. 11, sermon when the Columbus campus was launched.
Church of the Highlands Associate Pastor Dino Rizzo also announced the Columbus launch in the Aug. 18 service and said things have been going well.
“We launched our Columbus campus last weekend and heard great reports of what God is doing,” he told congregants of the megachurch.
Kyle Jackson, the campus pastor for Church of the Highlands in Columbus, said in a welcome video that the Columbus campus evolved from small groups meeting for prayer.
“With the Auburn and the Opelika campuses being a 45-minute drive away, even though it was in a different time zone we had a lot of people sort of driving and going to church and hosting small groups over here and praying together, and we just started to demand a campus over here,” Jackson said.
Columbus resident Keiauna Strickland said she started attending the Church of the Highlands while she was in college in Alabama.
“When I graduated and came home I told my mom, 'we are going to Highlands every Sunday.' So we were traveling from Columbus to Auburn every Sunday. I’m really excited about this campus. I feel like I’m at home now. I’m finally making Columbus a home because I have a church family here,” she said.
Jackson said he was happy that the campus was launched during a season of prayer for Church of the Highlands.
“We are a church of prayer and it matters. The harvest that we are gonna see is because of the seeds that have been planted through prayer,” he said.
According to AL.com, the new Auburn West campus will meet at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center at 9:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Auburn Dream Center Pastor Wren Aaron is expected to serve as campus pastor for the Auburn West branch.
The first Auburn branch of the church will now be known as Auburn East.