Church renovating old Reid’s
by The Press and Standard | January 31, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: January 29, 2019 at 3:59 pm
Last summer, the congregations of Living Word and the First Assembly of God churches voted to merge and become Faith Walterboro. By the end of the year, the church members hope they will be ready to move into their new home on Bells Highway.
Pastor Daryl Hunt of Faith Walterboro said he sought God’s guidance in leading Living Word Church to grow younger, to reach out to young children, young families, the younger generation.
He said the 2010 U.S. Census established the county’s population at 38,892 with 38 percent of those people reported under 30 years old.
The census numbers also reported 46 percent of county residents did not report a church affiliation. They were people, he said, who were either not comfortable calling any one place their church home or had no church home.
Hunt said the new church’s goal is to attract those county residents to Faith Walterboro.
To make Living Word more child friendly, expansion of the existing church facility was necessary. But that initial expansion plan has an unusual story behind it.
The Parris Island Marine Corp base was building new housing for recruits and was disposing of its old 8,000-square-foot pre-fab barracks buildings.
Hunt said after explaining his plan to repurpose an old barracks, the Marines said Living Word Church could have four of them free of charge, as long as the church handled the task of relocating them from the marine base to Colleton County.
Living Word only needed one of the buildings, so Hunt began contacting other religious leaders to see if they might have a use for the old barracks.
That search brought him in contact with lead Pastor Larry Burgbacher of Faith Summerville. Burgbacher was in the midst of establishing a new campus in Ridgeville and envisioned using one of the barracks as a temporary facility. “That was how the connection came about between Faith Summerville and the Living Word,” Hunt said.
In conversations with Burgbacher and other Faith Summerville members, “I heard about what Faith was doing in the Lowcountry. I thought, wow, I would really like to bring that to our town.”
Statistically, said Campus Life Director Jason Burgbacher, people rarely drive more than 7-10 miles to attend church. Because of that, “You go to where the people are.”
In 2010, Faith had one campus. Last summer, Faith Walterboro became its seventh campus. Last week, they launched their ninth campus at Lieber Correctional Institute.
The Faith Church is affiliated with the Assembly of God. Hunt said before Living Word underwent the transformation, he wanted to discuss the plans with the First Assembly of God about the prospect of having two Assembly of God churches in Walterboro.
On June 24, the proposal was put to the congregations of both Living Word and First Assembly of God. Both congregations voted to merge and become Faith Walterboro.
The Living Word Church on Barracada Road closed and Faith Walterboro began worshiping at the former First Assembly of God Church at 2107 Hampton St., as plans began to come together to purchase the shopping center at the corner of Bells Highway and Robertson Boulevard formerly anchored by Reid’s supermarket.
The new church will take over the 38,000 square feet that once housed the supermarket. The church’s offices will be located in a neighboring 2,000-square-foot former retail space.
The new church’s location on Bells Highway will be “a great central location. Being located on one of the city’s busiest roadways will give the church high visibility. We want to take this space and convert it into a community center,” Hunt explained. “We want to do more than just have church on Sundays. We want to be open throughout the week to serve the community.”
Two-fifths of the massive space will contain the church sanctuary with seating for over 600 parishioners.
Another two-fifths will be dedicated to children’s activities. Near the front door of that section, the church officials envision a little café.
The two large areas will be separated by a large concourse in the middle. This could be a great place for wedding receptions and community events, Hunt and Jason Burgbacher said.
They added that the retrofitting of the former commercial space — and what the church will provide to meet the needs of its members and the community — are both works in progress.
Hunt said, “We want to get our finger on the pulse of the community to see what are the greatest needs of the community.”
Jason said one community outreach program that will be offered will be Mom’s Morning Out. “We have a very successful Mom’s Morning Out program at the Summerville campus and are starting one in Goose Creek.”
Weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., parents will be able to bring their young children to Faith Walterboro and leave their children under supervision while they take care of errands or just take a break.
The church’s plan is to sell both the former Living Word and First Assembly of God church buildings.
Hunt said the contractor handling the renovation of the building is expected to spend about three months on demolition of the interior and then another eight months on construction.
“We hope to be open in late 2019 or early 2020. It would be great if we could be here for Christmas 2019,” Hunt said.