Church relaunches with expansion

New $5.5 million building shows growth in Hutt

2007. A church’s $5.5 million building investment in an old relocated Mitre Ten shop is further evidence of growth in the Hutt Valley.

The Hope Centre, in Lower Hutt, previously the Hutt Christian Covenant Church, has re-launched because of rapid growth and attracted hundreds on its opening day.

The 2200 sq m building is at the north end of the central business district, nestled next to a recently built Les Mills gymnasium which also occupies the old hardware site.

Three other churches are within walking distance – Victory Christian Centre, Calvary Church, which meets in a school hall, and Knox Presbyterian church, all on High Street.

Spokeswoman Lana Schmidt said 500 attended the opening ceremony and while hundreds more browsed the auditorium and facilities during the day. Thirty pastors from Wellington and the Hutt Valley supported the opening, officially performed by

Oasis Church pastor Barry Galloway, the longest serving pastor in the Hutt Valley.

The Hope Centre auditorium accommodates 500 people, and the facilities include a community room, an upstairs children’s church, a café, prayer center and youth facility which will be up and running by the end of the year. A parent’s room allows nursing mothers to watch services on closed circuit television.

Hope Centre Pastor Seth Fawcet says church growth is on the rise in Lower Hutt with other churches applying for permits to expand their premises.

In total some $15 million worth of extensions and property purchases are underway or planned, which when completed will double the number of sites from two years ago.

Among them, St James’ Anglican is looking at a $1 million expansion, and St Peter’s and Paul’s Catholic has just finished a major development.

Many of the Lower Hutt churches co-operate under the banner of Hutt Impact, which has a vision of 10 churches of 1000 people in 10 years.

It is estimated that 22 per cent of the Hutt Valley’s population attend church once a month or more. Fast food restaurants are staying open later on Sunday nights to accommodate people coming out of church services.

But Mr Fawcet says church life is about to go through a big change. “Up to now, it has been based on doing things. In the new generation it will be based on relationships. They want to hang out together.”

By Peter Veugelaers.

Published 2007, Challenge Weekly, additional reporting was provided by John McNeil.

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