High Rock Community Church moves services

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

By Scott Jenkins

Salisbury Post

Christ said “Let the children come unto me.” This Christmas, a local church is going to the children.

And the church’s pastor is asking his flock and others to come bearing gifts.

Next weekend, High Rock Community Church plans to cancel four worship services at its Bringle Ferry Road campus and one at its Denton satellite campus and consolidate them all at Nazareth Children’s Home.

The church will hold a 10 a.m. Christmas Eve service at the Children’s Home at 855 Crescent Road. Pastor Ray Johnson asked his 500-member congregation to bring $10 gift cards for the home, and he hopes anyone else who attends the service will do the same.

Johnson said it’s sort of a continuation of a series of services the church began last summer when it shut down its campus and held worship at area high schools.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to share Christ’s love with the community and we just believe if anybody needs Christ’s love, the children in these homes need to experience that,” Johnson said.

The service will include contemporary worship and video clips from the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” as part of the message, Johnson said, that “family can consist of not just your biological family, but also friends and your church family.”

Johnson said several children who live at Nazareth attend High Rock Community Church. Talking with one girl who lives there, he asked her what she wanted for Christmas.

“And she told me, ‘I’d just like to have a family,’ ” he said. “We want to, at least for one day, let our church family be part of their family.”

Johnson said the idea came to him in the small hours one morning as he pondered a passage in the New Testament Book of James that says, in his words, “Pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows.”

“We just believe that the church is not a building,” he said. “It’s the people. And by being willing to not have worship in your home building, I think it’s kind of neat to be able to take the Gospel out into the community.”

Nazareth President Vernon Walters Jr. said he welcomes High Rock. It’s the first time a church has approached the school about holding such a service on campus, he said.

“We thought it was a great idea, bringing in his membership and using our facility to hold the worship service on Christmas Eve,” Walters said. “We’re just grateful for the fact that he wanted to do this for our children and staff.”

Walters said 42 children live at the home and 25 are in foster care supervised by Nazareth. Any gift cards donated will be distributed among the cottages that house children and used to meet their needs.

“It would be a great help … and our staff would be most appreciative if that happens,” he said. “We want to be good stewards of everything that we receive and want to make sure that every child benefits from what they’re giving us.”

Nazareth is renovating its chapel, so the service will be held in the gym, which can seat around 600, Johnson said. If more come, he’ll ask church members to watch the service via video elsewhere in the building.

“If they come, we’ll make room for them,” he said.

Johnson said he’ll tell Nazareth’s children, many of whom have suffered abuse or neglect, that “maybe their parents weren’t always the best, and maybe my parents weren’t always the best, but I have a heavenly father who’s perfect and we want to focus on the fact that our heavenly father sent his son to earth … and isn’t that really the message of Christmas?”

For more information about the service, call High Rock Community Church at 704-630-0888 or log on to its Web site at www.highrockcommunitychurch.com.

Contact Scott Jenkins at 704-797-4248 or sjenkins@salisburypost.com.