Ardent Faith Christian Fellowship defines itself by community involvement, but until now its office has been hard for the community to find.
"It's in the middle of the Huntersville Business Park," said Jeffrey Watson, pastor. "We have a 1-inch-high sign on the front of the placard of the building. We'd tell people we're here, and they'd say, 'Where?'"
This month, the church moves its office to the Lupie's building, 103 S. Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, a more central and populated area.
Watson hopes the new location, near the Huntersville Town Hall and police station, will help the church connect daily with the community.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Ardent Faith began as a group of people who wanted to get involved with the community. The church grew out of that, Watson said. It moved from a home-based group to a church building in 2007.
"We want to move from a (community) events situation to being in the middle of it and being accessible and being noticed," he said. "The offices aren't that big, but we see it more as we are a hub. We want to be a place where people can drop by if they're in trouble."
Watson envisions the new offices being a place of connection, where people can come to get answers to spiritual questions. People also could stop by to use a phone or computer or to get help navigating systems and agencies to get help.
Leaders hope they can better serve Huntersville town employees from the new location by hosting lunches and Bible studies and offering chaplaincy services, Watson said.
The church is moving into the new office this month. Its leadership group had a prayer meeting there last week.
Watson hopes the church's increased exposure from the new office also will raise awareness for an international cause it has joined with the nine other churches in its international network, Christian Growth International.
The network of churches recently established an orphanage in Uganda. Its five cottages house eight children each, and a trained Ugandan mother oversees each. Watson said it is one of few orphanages that focuses on children with HIV.
"There are a lot of well-established orphanages there ... but they were reluctant to take children who tested positive for HIV," Watson said.
The Cherish children's home houses 40 orphans. No child there has died since the orphanage was founded two years ago, Watson said.
A group of five from Ardent Faith, including Watson's wife, Julie, and young adult pastor Mikala Hooper, visited the orphanage this summer. Cherish USA, a nonprofit organization, was founded in North Carolina this year to help Americans get involved with HIV-positive orphans in Uganda.
Watson wants to continue training and sending missionaries, both short- and long-term, to Uganda to work with orphans. Last Christmas, Ardent Faith paid for beds, linens, pillows and mattresses for one of the orphanage's houses.
He said he hopes other churches will get involved this year. The orphanage is on 15 acres and has room for more buildings.
"We want to raise funds, train people who want to go and serve, and then just raise awareness of the cause of these innocent kids," Watson said.