Rivers Edge Church will relocate to a new building in Hilliard as early as the first weekend of February.
The interdenominational congregation meets at Friendship Alliance Church in Callahan on Saturday evenings after COVID-19 closed access to Callahan Middle School, where previous services were held.
A 3,000-square-foot building next to Zans Bazzar sat empty for eight years. It will be leased from Suzanne Holton, according to Pastor Gerald Wollitz.
During an elders meeting, the group discussed a few locations in western Nassau when the possibility of utilizing the building was mentioned.
“She has been tremendous in her willingness to work with us,” Wollitz said. “And really, just has given us freedom to do whatever we needed to do in this space. It’s an answer to prayer for her. It’s an answer to prayer for us. Clearly God’s timing. It has to be God because this building has been around for eight years and we’ve been around for seven.”
The new sanctuary will seat about 110 people. The sanctuary will also double as a fellowship hall for church events. The site will include rooms for Sunday School, a nursery, a kitchenette and restroom facilities. A stone façade will line the main wall behind the stage. A wooden cross will serve as a central feature on the wall. Limited parking will be situated near the front for ADA accessibility needs, with ample parking in the rear of the building.
When open, Sunday services will begin at 10 a.m. As two services become necessary, they will probably be held at 9 and 10:30 a.m.
“This is really a perfect location at this moment in the life of the church,” Wollitz said, adding that the building will be leased for five years. The existing student ministries in Hilliard and those hosted in Callahan homes will continue. After the church opens, Hilliard teens will meet there on Wednesday nights.
“Maybe in five years, when the church grows and God blesses, we’ll find land and build somewhere else, permanently – permanently,” he said. “But for now, this is where we need to be. There’s no question about it.”
The pastor welcomes the community to experience the church’s culture.
“We are truly a place for anyone who is genuinely seeking a relationship with the Lord,” he said. “We don’t have any preconditions for attendance. We strive really hard that when people walk through the door – who they are outside those doors Monday through Saturday doesn’t matter. When we come in, we are a body of believers in Christ with all things in common. And that anyone is welcome here – it doesn’t matter (his or her) background. What they might be going through, what they might have experienced – good or bad – that when you come through that door, we’re just brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Wollitz’s family includes wife LeeAnne and children Eliezer, 17, Joeash, 16, Hannah, 9, Boaz, 8, and Noah, 7. His wife oversees the children’s ministry and volunteer/frontline workers.
Matthew Fogle leads worship and the teen ministry.