Phillip Murdock has had his prayers answered.
Murdock is the minister of LifePointe Christian Church, an independent church community that hasn’t had a permanent home since it first came together for Sunday service on September 17, 2006.
Instead, the congregation has met every Sunday since 2009 at Williamsburg Christian Academy in Toano.
“We’ve existed going on 12 years, and we’ve never had our own building,” Murdock said. “That means every Sunday we set up chairs…Our people show up early Sunday morning and do that, and they’re faithful in that.”
LifePointe’s congregation won’t have to set up chairs for much longer.
Tuesday evening, James City County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved LifePointe’s request for a new and larger church space in Toano – one that would belong solely to LifePointe, once the purchase of the property is finalized.
The new church will be located at 8841 and 8851 Richmond Road, across the street from Two Drummers Smokehouse.
“When Phil [Murdock] started the church years ago he was, and still is, very involved in his church, and it’s come a long way,” Supervisor Michael Hipple said. “I think this is going to be an added bonus to James City County.”
A horse-and-pony farm and a bed-and-breakfast currently sit on the property. The stable will be “up-fitted” into a church building that will hold up to 600 congregants, LifePointe’s legal counsel, Greg Davis of Kaufman & Canoles P.C., said before the board.
Retrofitting the stable will also be less expensive than constructing a new building, Davis added.
Murdock said he hopes LifePointe will move into the new church in either late 2019 or early 2020, after architectural firms finalize the plans; but he added the timeline might represent a best-case scenario.
LifePointe added a third Sunday service earlier this year, Murdock said, as the church community was outgrowing Williamsburg Christian Academy.
“For Easter, for our second service, we had to pull in extra chairs, and it was almost standing room only,” Murdock said. “That is part of the reason why we’re looking to have more space.”
The new church will allow LifePointe to host its growing community, Murdock said, and make it much easier to accommodate the community it already serves.
At the moment, church members meet in small groups elsewhere throughout the week, for gatherings such as bible study, children’s activities and student ministry.
LifePointe also owns office space for its seven-person staff at 8251 Richmond Road, near Anderson’s Corner.
“The primary purpose [for the move] is a place to continue doing the ministry we’ve been doing for 12 year at a higher level,” Murdock said.
But the move isn’t just about the church community, Murdock said – it’s also about finding a way to serve the surrounding community.
For example, LifePointe has partnered with Habitat for Humanity, helped create butterfly habitats in area schools, raised money for the family of the victim of the 2015 Norge Farm Fresh shooting, and organized efforts to feed the needy, Davis said.
Having a place to call home will make efforts to support their neighbors easier, Murdock said.
“We feel that’s our mission,” Murdock said. “If all we’re doing is meeting on Sunday morning just to say we met on Sunday morning, we failed.”
“We want to make an impact on the community we’re in.”