SOUTH PORTLAND — The area’s largest church opened not to the sound of church bells, but to cheers and the beat of a three-time Grammy award-winning musician.
Eastpoint Christian Church and The Point community center are located at 345 Clark’s Pond Parkway in the former Bob’s Discount Furniture and HomeGoods building. Eastpoint purchased the building for $7 million, which includes 6 acres of land. According to Pastor Scott Taube, who founded the church in 2004, the build-out cost around $6 million.
“We built the community center as a gift to greater Portland,” Taube said. “The whole building is a community center, but the church just happens to meet there.”
The first services in the new building will be held Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14 at 9 and 11 a.m., which will be the regular times Sunday services will be offered. times. Taube said the hope is to have 3,000 people in attendance.
The last service at the former location at 58 City Line Drive in Portland was held this past Sunday.
Only hours after officially opening Christian rock musicians Nathan Tasker, Jordan Feliz and Michael W. Smith, who has won three Grammys and had 57 No. 1 songs, opened up the brand new 92,000-square-foot building, filling most of the 1,600 seat auditorium and worship center.
Although Eastpoint Christian is not by definition a mega church – which must have weekly attendance of 2,000 or more, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research – leaders hope it will be. Taube thinks the church is already the largest church in Maine, with average Sunday attendance 1,400-1,450 at all services combined. However, there have been as many as 1,580 on an average Sunday. Last month’s Easter services drew 2,350 during six services, Taube said.
In addition to the 1,600-seat auditorium and worship center, the community center features 15 class and conference rooms, a soccer field, basketball courts and a gym, locker rooms, a children’s playscape, a 4,000-square-foot student lounge and multi-purpose room, and a cafe.
Taube said The Point will host different sporting events, including boot camps. Programming and open gym times are still being worked out, but the information will be available on the community center website at www.thepoint.community. More about the church can be found at www.eastpoint.church.com.
The church will also host concerts at The Point; Christian rock musician Steven Curtis Chapman will take the state at 7 p.m. June 21.
Mainely Wraps cafe will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days at week, and the public is welcome to patronize the restaurant and take advantage of free wi-fi.
The free playscape will also be open to the public Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
“One of the things we are trying to do is for moms or dads to bring their kids to play. They can relax, enjoy a wrap and have some free time,” Taube said.
Taube said nonprofits can use the building at no charge, subject to vetting and availability. During the week various support and religious classes will be offered, including introductory Bible classes, various recovery groups and a grief share group. Taube said the building, classrooms, and conference space will also be available to rent.
Taube describes the church as conservative Christian, with relevant bible teaching that allows people to draw their own conclusions. He called it a welcoming worship experience where people can come just as they are; shorts and jeans are acceptable dress.
“The building is where we gather. The church is the people,” Taube said.
Fans cheer on Christian musician Jordan Feliz as he performs at Eastpoint Christian Church and The Point community center. From left are Mary Winslow and her daughter Grace Winslow, 20, of Center Barnstead, New Hampshire and Pat Meserve of Gorham.
Christian musician Jordan Feliz performs at Eastpoint Christian Church and The Point community center.
Christian rock musician Michael W. Smith, who has won three Grammys and had 57 No. 1 songs performs at Eastpoint Christian Church and The Point community center.