Church expands to hold services inside city school

Published 8:58 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

An Elizabethton city school will soon be home to a new campus of a Virginia-based church.
Highlands Fellowship Church will be opening an extension ministry at T.A. Dugger Junior High on Sunday, Dec. 13. Services will begin at 10 a.m. and will take place each subsequent Sunday, with services available for children and youth also.
The site will be the seventh physical location for the Virginia-based church and the second in Tennessee.
Pastor Bill Mullins of Elizabethton will lead the service. Mullins has helped open several extension campuses, the most recent in Johnson City.
The church began in a high school building in Abingdon, Virginia in 1995 and has expanded to four permanent locations in Abingdon, Bristol and Marion, VA, and Johnson City; three extension campuses are located in Norton and Bluefield, VA, and soon, in Elizabethton.
The church also has an online campus. More than 4,000 regularly attend the church at the various locations.
“The plan is not always to grow and expand, but rather to meet the needs of the community,” said Highlands Creative Director Elizabeth Rush.
Though the church is part of the Virginia Baptist Convention, Rush said they do not put a heavy emphasis on denomination.
Their vision is of a church where imperfect people love to attend, Rush said, adding that many people have been turned off by the traditional elements and expectations of church.
“We’re all imperfect, and we want to create a place where people can come and experience Jesus in a real, authentic way,” she said.
She said that impacting just one person’s life can be powerful, so their mission is to change the community and the world by reaching “just one for Jesus.”
“People feel overwhelmed by trying to help so many people, but being real and truly investing in one person — that is powerful,” she said. “We feel like people in the area respond well to our church.”
She referenced Paul’s statement in the Biblical book of Acts, saying that a church is the body of people — not the building or the walls.
“It’s people coming together to learn about Jesus, and that’s really the heartbeat behind what we do,” she said.

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