University City

Calvary Church plans expansion

Calvary Church is simply out of nooks and crannies.

Walls have been removed in the iconic church on N.C. 51 to create classrooms. Storage closets have been emptied to make classrooms.

Employees used soundproof glass to wall off a landing on the church's upper floor to create meeting space.

"We have been as creative as we can be," said Calvary Church Executive Pastor Scott Vail.

With a growing congregation and a 22-year-old building bursting at the seams, Calvary has broken ground on a 51,000-square -foot addition on the north side of its 100-acre campus.

The Calvary Life Center, which will cost almost $10 million, will have a gymnasium, 24 classrooms and two auditoriums.

Rapid growth

Calvary Church, known for its five-story, crown-shaped building, has seen exponential growth in the past few years.

Numbers had declined after the resignation of a former pastor in 2004.

Vail said that under the Rev. John H. Munro's current leadership, the church has flourished.

The congregation has enjoyed steady growth, swelling to 4,000 at the church's Sunday service. Since 2007, the church's youth and high school groups have grown from 60 to 300. Adult Sunday School attendance has increased from 350 to 1,200, and more than 600 children now participate in the church's Sunday ministries.

United congregation

Vail said new members often say that the church's teaching that the Bible is the "absolute truth and authority of life" drew them to the church.

Munro has brought unity to the church's congregation, including consolidating Sunday services, Vail said. The church's sanctuary can hold 5,000 people. Members are coming from as far as Concord and Statesville.

On Sundays, the Calvary Life Center will be home to the church's children's and youth ministries.

The rooms are outfitted with state-of-the-art technology.

During the week, it will host Awana, a 60-year-old national program for children. Many churches have been cutting Awana, and people are bringing their children to Calvary.

The large gymnasium also will allow Calvary to expand its Sports Outreach Ministry, which already involves more than 3,000 children.

The program offers soccer, flag football, baseball and karate, and its winter sports additions will include basketball, volleyball and fitness for children and adults. Senior exercise classes also will be provided.

"Offering seniors a place for building community, fitness and Bible study is all a part of Calvary's mission to the city," said Jim P. Cashwell, the church's pastor of missions and evangelism.

Next generation

The CLC will be two stories high; the sanctuary is five stories. The CLC's design will not repeat the glass arches of the sanctuary, but it will be painted the same taupe and cream.

"It won't mimic (the original building) like it was built at the same time," Vail said.

The church is now raising money internally, and Vail said donations and pledges are on track to pay off the project in three years. The church follows a policy of not taking on long-term debt.

Vail believes the congregation has bought into the project because it has been involved in the planning. The CLC is scheduled to open about a year.

"The building was not something we rushed into," Vail said. "We're so proud of it, and it's going to be just awesome to have this new facility."