Real Life in Virginia Rebuilds after Tornado (Plus News Briefs)
Real Life in Virginia Rebuilds after Tornado (Plus News Briefs)

Real Life Christian Church, Chesapeake, Va., celebrated their first worship service in a new building Sunday, almost two years after a tornado ripped through their original building.

“It was a very special service to be here together again,” executive pastor Brett Coates told WAVY. “We’ve been through a lot the past 22 months, but we’ve bonded together and that made today even more special.”

The new building, constructed on the site of the old, features a cross inside made from pieces of the previous church, along with artwork made from pieces of a tree knocked down by the tornado.

“We took a lot of things that were deemed trash and tried to make them as art, just as a reflection of what God has done in our eyes, taken what’s broken and deemed useless and breathe life back into that,” Coates told WAVY.

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News Briefs

Salty Church in Ormond Beach, Fla., is making plans to build a new sanctuary to help accommodate its growth.

The church has plans for a new 11,585-square-foot, single-story building adjacent to its current facility. Building plans call for a sanctuary that can seat 670 people, along with a café.

The cost of the project is expected to be $3.5 million.

Lead pastor Robbie O’Brien showed the plans at a recent neighborhood meeting, according to the Ormond Beach Observer.

“It’s not about the number of people coming. It’s about our ability to expand our opportunities to make a difference,” he said. “We need to be an asset to the community, and if not, we’re failing.”

The Observer reports that the project has been moving forward for the past year. Salty Church has 700 to 800 people total attending three Sunday services.

The new building project—which still needs the city’s approval—would enable the church to stop leasing space for its children’s ministry.

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Suncrest Christian Church in St. John, Ind., was given a “Compassion in Action Award” from the Lake Area United Way. The award was one of 15 handed out to local nonprofit and faith-based organizations helping to improve their community, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.

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Pastor James MacDonald is taking an “indefinite sabbatical” from all preaching and leadership with Harvest Bible Chapel, elders of that Chicago megachurch have announced.

In a statement to the congregation, the elders said, “We have tried a variety of different strategies to address external criticisms over the past several years. It has become apparent that these efforts have failed to fully identify and address our personal failures, sins, and errors in leadership, thus perpetuating a continuation of the criticism.”

Relevant magazine and the Chicago Tribune reported on problems at the church in the recent past, including excommunication of elders (in 2013), a defamation suit, and allegations of financial and leadership misconduct.

“I have carried great shame about this pattern in certain relationships that can only be called sin,” MacDonald said in a statement on the church’s website. “I am grieved that people I love have been hurt by me in ways they felt they could not express to me directly and have not been able to resolve.”

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An Alzheimer’s caregiver support group that meets at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., was featured this month by Religion News Service in a series of articles on dementia and religion. The support group is one of hundreds affiliated with the Alzheimer’s Association that are held regularly at churches across the country. RNS reported that caregivers benefit from support groups and that church settings often are good places for them to share their difficulties with others.

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Woodland Hills Christian Church in Meadowview, Va., is doing its best to help people struggling with opioid addictions.

The church recently formed a recovery group that meets weekly to provide biblical solutions to those suffering from addiction, according to the Washington County News, which published a feature story about the program.

One participant, Emily Schuler, said she never misses a meeting and that the recovery group “[has] helped me a lot.”

The church started the support group upon learning of a lack of faith-based recovery programs in the region. About a dozen men and women attend the weekly, two-hour meetings.

Group facilitator Charlie Lowdermilk told the News, “We have a deep burden in our hearts for lifting up people and giving them hope.”

“The majority of people who need recovery won’t go to a residential program,” said Roger Phelps, the church’s discipleship pastor. “That’s why these groups in churches are so valuable.”

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Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, N.C., is launching a study-abroad course that will send students to Greece.

The class will focus on the life and teachings of the apostle Paul during a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, according to the Daily Advance. The class will be taught by Bane Angles, MACU adjunct professor and pastor of First Christian Church in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

“This is our first study-abroad program that we’ve done,” said MACU president John Maurice. “I’m hoping it’s the first of many.”

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Send news briefs to cs@christianstandardmedia.com.

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