By DAVID BORAKS
The biggest church construction project in area history comes to fruition this weekend when hundreds of members gather for services at the Elevation Church Lake Norman, in the renovated Palace Theater at Kenton Place in Cornelius.
The $10 million project transformed the 41,600-square-foot former cineplex, adding a 1,200-seat auditorium to accommodate the growing church’s membership in the Lake Norman area. It also will be available for community rentals.
It’s the 10th location for the Matthews-based congregation, one of the fastest-growing churches in the U.S. Elevation was founded in 2006 by lead Pastor Steven Furtick, his wife Holly, and other families, and it now draws about 14,000 to weekly services. The church says it is creating a place “so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ.”
Besides Lake Norman, the church also has locations in Charlotte, Matthews, Concord and Rock Hill. Last year, Elevation started its first church outside the area – and outside the U.S. – in Toronto. It also is reaching out to Raleigh this year.
[Furtick attracted a bit of unwanted regional and national attention last fall over a large house he bought in Weddington. He said he financed the purchase with money from book sales. And officials have noted that the church has given millions of dollars to charity over the past several years.]
GROWING TO LAKE NORMAN
In Cornelius, Elevation plans three worship services this and future weekends: Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 9:30 and 11:30am. As at the church’s other sites, services will include local pastors and music, along with a sermon by Furtick, beamed to satellite locations from Charlotte.
“We’re really excited to get up there,” Elevation’s CFO, Chunks Corbett, said in an interview Thursday. “We feel called to reach the Charlotte area. The north part of town and Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville – that whole area is a key piece.”
The Palace Theater project has been a leap of faith for the church – its largest commitment financially and the first permanent location to launch without a temporary site first. The $10 million investment included about $3 million to buy the former theater from a California investment group, about $5 million in renovations, and $2 million in audio-visual and other technology. The church also bought an extra parcel nearby for parking, Corbett said.
But the church is confident there’s an audience here. Lake Norman residents for several years have been attending services at Elevation’s other sites, including Spirit Square in downtown Charlotte and the University City YMCA. The church estimates 1,300 households in the Lake Norman area have visited an Elevation campus, and more than 250 households are “currently connected at Elevation. They’re volunteering, they’re in a group, they’re giving,” Corbett said.
He’s not sure how many will turn up for the opening weekend’s services. About 250 volunteers will help out with the launch, most from the church’s University and Uptown Charlotte locations.
Elevation held a rally and run-through at the new campus on Thursday, with volunteers and church leaders. (See the announcement below.)
AVAILABLE FOR RENTAL
Elevation opening at Kenton Place also means the addition of a new meeting venue for the Lake Norman area. The 1,200-seat technology-equipped auditorium may be the largest of its kind in the area north of Charlotte, Corbett said, and the church plans to offer it for rental to community groups and businesses.
Elevation’s services will occupy the campus a couple of days a week, making it available at other times for rental. The church uses the same strategy with its site in the Blakeney area of south Charlotte.
“Our strategy with that (new) building is that it not sit empty during the week, and that it can be a community center,” Corbett said.
The Kenton Place facility will be able to accommodate community performance or meetings, including concerts, recitals, and “anything that will require a big auditorium,” Corbett said.
As a nonprofit religious institution, the church will pay no property taxes in Cornelius. That was a concern last year when the Cornelius Town Board approved a rezoning last year. Corbett said it also will be limited in the amount of revenue it generates from rentals, so it doesn’t run afoul of Internal Revenue Service rules governing nonprofits.
WANT TO GO?
Elevation Lake Norman
8325 Copley Dr.
Cornelius, NC 28031
Worship: Saturdays 5pm; Sundays 9:30 and 11:30am
Elevation Church Launches Lake Norman Location
Charlotte, NC– This weekend Elevation Church will launch its 10th location in just eight years. Expectations are high among volunteers and staff as the team prepares to hold its first worship experience at its new Lake Norman location Saturday evening at 5pm.
At a rally this morning [Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014] at the new location, Pastor Steven encouraged staff to think about and pray for the hundreds of people who attend and volunteer at Elevation locations farther from home who will now be able to bring their friends to church right down the street.
16-year-old Shelby Purvis is one of these volunteers. Shelby’s battling Leukemia, and in the midst of her own difficult circumstances she is driven to invite people to the church that has changed her life and brought her hope. Shelby’s father, Jim says of her daughter, “Shelby has a new fire for inviting her teachers and neighbors because she knows there’s no more ‘it’s too far’ excuse.”
You can bet Shelby and others will fill the seats at Lake Norman this weekend and beyond.
Elevation Lake Norman is a 41,600 square foot building with meeting rooms and auditorium seating for 1,200 people. It will be available for lease for community events like dance recitals, concerts, and meetings – as is the church’s Blakeney location.
Elevation Church was founded in 2006 by lead Pastor Steven Furtick, his wife Holly and seven core families that still serve at and attend the church. Its offices are in Matthews, NC. Worship experiences are held in nine locations across the Charlotte area and one in Toronto, Canada.
For more information, please visit ElevationChurch.org
April 22, 2013, “Board OKs Elevation Church plans for Palace Theater.”
See all previous coverage of Elevation on CorneliusNews.net