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Building the faith: Gander Evangel Pentecostal invests in new church

GANDER, N.L. – With seating for 350 constantly at capacity, the Evangel Pentecostal congregation has outgrown its church in Gander.

“We are facing a problem a lot of churches don’t have, we’re growing and expanding,” said Associate Pastor Mike Freake. “We’ve tore down every wall that we could, and expanded every which way we can, but there’s absolutely nothing else we could do with the space.”

Pastor Ralph Benson said the denomination’s attitude has played a large role in that growth.

“We’ve been able to connect to this generation through an approach that church is something that’s not dead, in the past, or over,” Benson said. “The majority of our church is young families, we’re strong in the children’s ministry and technology, so that if you came to our church service, it’s a very vibrant thing that people can connect to.”

To continue experiencing such growth, five years ago, it was decided to expand, working towards a 36,000-square foot community oriented church.

Along with a place to worship for 650 people, amongst the key features of the building is a coffee house setting, gymnasium – with a rock wall, conference room, and in-house studio for its Christian television show “Heart Matters”.

Technology is also being embraced, as it will come with large screen displays, a new sound system, energy efficient lighting and geothermal heating.

“When we decided to build, what we envisioned was to not only meet the needs of the congregation but to enhance our ministry to the community,” said Benson. “Our agenda has always been outward focus, connecting with people. In doing that we have opened up our old church and hall to anyone, it has connected us, and changed our perception.

“So, we pushed to do the best possible facility we could.”

To see the work completed, the Pentecostal church secured a multimillion-dollar mortgage from the Royal Bank of Canada. The total cost of the new facility wasn’t disclosed.

“We had to prove to the bank that we could manage it,” said Benson, about securing the mortgage.

Along with its annual revenue, the church also moved into market rental properties, with focus placed on affordable housing.

Related: Construction of affordable housing unit for seniors underway

“We had a church facility, the hall, the house, on the market to sell but it was proving impossible to sell,” he said. “We got approval from head office to develop it into marketable rental properties, I don’t know if that was the main thing that go us to this point, but it certainly helped.”

The new church is set to hold its first service Sept. 9, with an official opening to take place Sept. 20.

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