Elevation Church signs coming down at high school – except on weekends

Elevation Church sign this week at exit of Forestview High School in Gastonia.
Elevation Church sign this week at exit of Forestview High School in Gastonia.

A public high school in Gastonia that rents space to Elevation Church on Sundays says the church has agreed to take down church signs at the school property’s entrance and exit that have stayed up during the week.

Forestview High School principal Chad Carper said that, from now on, Elevation volunteers will put up the church’s signature orange signs on Saturday and take them down before students and teachers return Monday morning.

“We got a call from Central Office (for Gaston County schools) saying somebody had made a complaint,” said Carper. “(Elevation) signs were up (during the week) and it wasn’t a really big deal for us. We have a lot of signs around the school. And since (Elevation) rents our facilities, it just happened. Nobody ever complained.”

Forestview High School in Gastonia salutes its financial sponsors on the school’s digital sign. Elevation Church has donated money to the school’s athletic boosters and PTO, principal Chad Carper said. Other sponsors that get visual mentions on the electric sign, he said, include Publix grocery chain and Track Side Grill.

Carper is among those who attend Elevation’s Sunday service at the high school.

Besides renting space from Forestview High School, Elevation – the Charlotte-area mega-church pastored by Steven Furtick – has also made financial donations to the school’s athletic boosters and PTO (parent-teacher organization), Carper said.

So the school has been thanking Elevation and its other sponsors by including their names and logos on its giant outdoor digital sign near the school’s flagpole. Carper said Publix grocery chain and Track Side Grill are among the other sponsors that get visual mentions in the sign’s rotation during the week. He said the electric sign also promotes the school’s athletic championships, teacher of the month, birthdays and more.

Two other churches that have supplied the school with volunteers and put on luncheons – Union Presbyterian and Sandy Plains Baptist – also get a “shout out” in Forestview High newsletters or on TV screens in the school, Carper said.

“All three of those churches really help us,” said the principal. He said Elevation’s place on the digital sign will continue “because they are one of our corporate/community partners. We placed them on the sign as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for their support of our school.”

Elevation did not return Observer texts and emails asking for comment.

The Outcry Tour 2017 stopped at Bojangles' Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. with Elevation Worship performing a rocking five-song set and Pastor Steven Furtick delivering a 30-minute sermon.

Every weekend, Elevation Church has services all over the Charlotte area – in its own state-of-the-art facilities and in some rented spaces. On Sundays, they hold services at Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theatre in uptown and at two public schools (Forestview High in Gastonia and Jay M. Robinson High in Concord).

Gregory Hall, principal at Jay M. Robinson High School said Elevation removes all its signage from there after its Sunday services.

Around the country, many churches rent low-cost space in public schools. Most do so because they don’t yet have the membership or the money to build a permanent home.

Some critics have bristled over such arrangements, saying having church services in tax-funded facilities like public schools breaches the traditional wall separating church and state.

But, with a few exceptions, courts have said churches can use public school facilities. The one caveat: Such use has to be temporary.

What that generally means is that churches take over school facilities on a Sunday; put up their banners, signs and chairs; and, after the services, put everything back the way they found it in time for weekday classes.