Nearly 17 years ago, Bryan Matthews saw a vision near Grovetown for his budding church.
Started as a youth ministry in 1995 by Matthews and his wife, Rhonda, New Life Christian Center’s home base has always been in Augusta.
Matthews knew he wanted the nondenominational church to one day grow roots in Columbia County, so he bought more than 13 acres of land on Lewiston Road for future construction of a facility.
When Walmart recently approached Matthews about purchasing the church’s current building on Wrightsboro Road, the senior pastor said he knew the time was right.
“It had always been in our heart, but we just never had really felt like it was the right time,” Matthews said. “Now it is.”
The site near Grovetown, now a total of 31 acres, is prime for construction, and Matthews hopes to start the project’s first building phase by late summer.
Initially, a two-story beige stucco and stone veneer worship facility will be built near the intersection of Lewiston and Mill Branch roads. The 63,544-square-foot building will house classrooms, offices and an assembly area to accommodate the church’s active attendance of about 1,500 people.
Matthews said he’d like to be in the new church within nine months of the groundbreaking.
“It’s just the next phase of our ministry,” he said. “We’re beyond excited that the Lord’s actually allowing us to be able to do this.”
Planned in the second phase is a 40,000-square-foot sanctuary, amphitheater and athletic fields. A timeline for the second phase hasn’t been determined.
Matthews, who left his job at a south Augusta paper mill to start the ministry, described the church as family friendly and a place to “just be who you are.”
New Life is just one of three churches looking to build a new home in the county:
• Work is expected to begin soon on a new facility for The Vine Church.
A 3,500-square-foot meeting area, which will hold about 200 people, is planned on five acres at 830 Louisville Road.
• Within three to five years, Quest United Methodist Church will embark on a new church project near the Gateway shopping center.
A 24,000-square-foot building will provide a meeting space, lobby, cafe, offices and nursery.