A church is more than a building, it’s a community.
The Williamsburg Community Chapel has leased a new space in Williamsburg to expand their services to a new community of followers.
Their new 9,000-square-foot church will open in the Town and Country Shopping Center on Merrimac Trail in early 2019, said Associate Pastor Hunter Ruch.
The chapel has been located on John Tyler Highway in 1989 and will continue to operate after the new church opens.
Ruch said the decision to expand was necessary in order to reach an under-served community on and around Merrimac Trail.
“We’re here on the west side of Williamsburg, and it’s not really accessible to people on the east side of Williamsburg…While you can hop on the bus, it’s not really convenient,” Ruch said. “We wanted a church where people could walk and have access.”
Several apartment complexes line Merrimac Trail near the new church, which was one reason why the property was selected.
“We have a team that has really been putting forth some good thought and prayer towards starting the church plant,” Ruch said. “After checking a lot of options, the property on Merrimac Trail was the one we really feel the Lord has led us to.”
The property is near the former Farm Fresh, which closed in October 2017. Ruch said renovations are now underway.
One large room will seat about 250 people and will host Sunday services. There will also be a kitchen, restrooms, a few classrooms for children, and offices for Pastor Doug Bunn and chapel staff.
Renovations are expected to be done by February or March. Ruch said services may begin even before then in a temporary location, although one has not yet been selected.
In addition to Sunday service, Ruch said he anticipates the new church will offer bible study, after school programs, dinners and other functions throughout the week.
The church will eventually be fully independent of the Williamsburg Community Chapel.
However, the chapel will fund the church plant for the first two full years of operation, before weaning the new church of funding. By the beginning of year-five, Ruch said the church plant is expected to be financially self-sufficient.
Even once the new church is on its own, the old and new church communities will share core values and a common bond.
“Because of the different location and socioeconomic realities of that side of Williamsburg, we want the values to be the same, but how those values are expressed is up to (Pastor) Doug,” Ruch said.
Ruch said there are about 40 people who have expressed interest in joining the new community, and he expects to draw more from the surrounding area as word of the church spreads.
Community members who are interested in joining the new church or existing chapel can reach Pastor Doug Bunn at 757-229-7152 or visit their website.
“We are excited to embark on this exciting journey, trusting that Jesus Christ will provide for our church plant just as He has provided for the Chapel all these years,” Ruch wrote in an email to WYDaily. “It remains to be seen how He will work in and through this new church plant in eastern Williamsburg.”