COME AS YOU ARE: Church launches satellite campus in county

Published 12:52 pm Saturday, January 10, 2015

COVENANT CHURCH | CONTRIBUTED BIBLE SCHOOL: Pictured, kids of Covenant Church attend a program during its Vacation Bible School.

BIBLE SCHOOL: Pictured, kids of Covenant Church attend a program during its Vacation Bible School.

A church based in Winterville is launching a new satellite campus in Beaufort County, seeking those who are looking for a home church and those who do not currently attend a church.

Covenant Church, home to Winterville with two satellite sites—one on East Carolina University’s campus and one in Beaufort County—will launch the local campus Sunday at 11 a.m., said Blake Smith, campus pastor for Covenant-BOCO. Services will include a children’s or student ministry, which will be available for children two-months-old through fifth grade, praise and worship and a sermon, according to Smith.

Jeff Dagle, director of cultural development with Covenant, said the church service will not be much different from that of a normal service. However, rather than the message being delivered live onstage, it will be streamed through and displayed on a projection screen from the pastor at the Winterville site.

“For someone who has a church background, there won’t really be anything out of the ordinary,” Everything will be just as a regular church would have a service, but when it comes time to hear the sermon, instead of a pastor being onstage live, he will come through a video feed — a large screen and a large projector that will have him right on the screen, just as if we were in Winterville.”

The church also posts its sermons online, which have a national and international viewership, Dagle said. Last weekend, the church had its largest online attendance — 431 viewers.

Dagle said the story of how the campus came to be is one of obedience. The church’s leadership team started pursuing a direction to move into a multi-site strategy, rather than building larger facilities. The team researched, prayed and looked at data and analytics and knew early on that East Carolina University would be its first campus to plant, but something told them to launch a second campus, Dagle said.

“We could not shake the feeling that we were supposed to belong to second campus, but we didn’t know where,” Dagle said. “Our initial idea was to head south towards Grifton and Lenoir County. We kept running into roadblocks and decided that wasn’t the right direction.

The leadership team then got the feeling that they should be looking toward Washington, Dagle said. Though not the most logical step due to the church’s limited constituency in Beaufort County and few members from Beaufort County coming to the Winterville and ECU campuses, Covenant still could not shake the feeling it belonged in Washington, Dagle said.

“We are really there out of obedience,” Smith said. “We’ve certainly felt God leading us to Beaufort County. Our sole purpose is to reach people who are currently ‘unchurched,’ who are outside of church because of a past experience or they’ve never been. That’s who we are looking for. We’re also looking for those who have not found a home church in Beaufort County. We’re just trying to carry to them the love of Jesus Christ and helping them understand what that means and how much of a difference that can make in their live. We want to reach as many of those individuals as possible. We are a very ‘come as you are’ church. We invite anyone who is interested to come through those doors just as they are.”

Smith said, however, it is not the church’s intention to take members away from the church they are currently attending. Smith and Dagle both feel that any Christian church that is thriving is a good thing for the Kingdom of Heaven, they said.

“It is not our desire to take anybody from any other church,” Smith said. “Our belief is when any church thrives, then the Kingdom of Heaven will thrive. We want every Jesus-loving church to grow and do amazing things in the community. We’re certainly not coming as a replacement church — we’re coming to supplement and come alongside those churches.”

Covenant Church-BOCO is located at 230 East 8th St., Washington, also known as the Old Washington High School/Transitions Building.