As a college student, Pete Varvaris taped a saying on the mirror in his dorm room. He can't remember the exact words, but the gist was that the secret to happiness is focusing on other people's problems, not your own.
The saying stuck with him, and years later he is leading a new church in Mooresville that puts those words into action.
New Hope Missions Church, an offshoot of an established church in Statesville, will hold its first worship service April 25, but the church's core group has long been establishing itself in the Mooresville area.
The church's focus is manifest in its name. It emphasizes "new hope that's always there because of God's goodness toward us" and community service and missions, locally, nationally and abroad, the Rev. Pete Varvaris said.
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While he's never been on an international mission trip, Varvaris said, he's observed that people who return from missions trips are changed.
"Their whole philosophy of life changed, especially if they went internationally," Varvaris said. "Even if they never went on the mission field again, they had a greater heart to reach out to people and really live their faith."
Varvaris hopes to foster that sense of living out one's faith by helping others in his new congregation, which already has been serving the Mooresville community for more than a year.
New Hope Missions Church was first discussed three years ago, when Varvaris' Statesville congregation realized a number of its members were commuting from Mooresville.
In an unusual move, the church agreed to send Varvaris, its lead pastor, to start the new church.
"Usually when churches start a daughter church, they don't take their lead pastor and send him to that field," Varvaris said. "That presented a few unique relationship issues with the parent church, but they felt OK about it, and I felt the call from God to do it."
Varvaris and a core group began to formulate the vision for the new Mooresville church, which they soon put into action.
The New Hope Missions group has traveled to Washington, D.C., to work with Samaritan's Feet to give shoes to children in need. They've been buddies for special needs adults competing at local Special Olympics. They've served a meal and lead a worship service at a Mooresville soup kitchen.
Varvaris has reserved spots on a mission trip to New Orleans this summer and hopes to travel to Kenya soon to help a group that is starting churches there.
Varvaris said the church's work in Mooresville has caught the attention of people they've served with in the community.
"We've found a lot of people who resonate with the idea of a church being something more than just a place to go on Sundays," he said.
The church also has begun ministering to people's spiritual lives, hosting its Connection Cafe Bible study on Thursday nights.
New Hope church is now preparing for its first official worship service, which will be 10 a.m. April 25 at the Lake Norman Dance Gallery, 443 Williamson Road, Mooresville.
The service will offer an opportunity for the core group and people they have met through shared interest in community service to meet regularly as a church, Varvaris said.
Varvaris said the church holds to a "solid biblical basis" for its teaching, with an emphasis on God's grace and truth and "serving the world with the hope of Christ."
The service will include contemporary Christian music, and Varvaris will preach.
New Hope Missions Church will continue its mission to affect communities worldwide, starting in Mooresville.
"If they really want to receive a higher level of fulfillment and satisfaction in their walk with the Lord, they'll find it as they serve their fellow man in the name of Christ," Varvaris said. "They'll receive the hope of Christ themselves, but be very active in serving the community, and nationally and internationally eventually as well."
The community is invited to the launch of New Hope Missions Church April 25. For more information, visit www.newhopemissionschurch.org.