— By SALLY SEXTON
HUDSON OAKS – When New River Fellowship Church opened its doors more than 10 years ago, the goal was to provide a place of worship for anyone wanting to attend.
New River surpassed that goal, with visitors from Parker County and Fort Worth and a flocking to services held at the church off of Interstate 20.
Construction on a new fellowship hall to accommodate growth began last October and plans are coming along nicely, with major structures already erected on the building.
“Imperial Construction is knocking it out of the ballpark,” New River senior pastor Scott Crenshaw said of the progress. “We’re even ahead of schedule and the City of Hudson Oaks, as well as our congregation, has been more than gracious and helpful.”
Construction is scheduled to be completed mid-December, with an official grand opening for the public planned for Jan. 26.
As overcrowding became more of an issue — New River has been conducting four services, filling up the current hall while accommodating visitors with chairs in the foyer and along the aisles — Crenshaw and his crew debated the best way to expand.
“Our first thought was to relocate to a bigger space but then we thought, 'We are never going to get the same visibility [from a major road] that we do here,'” Crenshaw said. “We have a lot of people that stop by just because they saw it when they were driving by the interstate.”
New River’s current congregation numbers more than 2,000 each Sunday, and the new fellowship hall will have plenty of room for visitors as well as modern lighting, audio and visual effects.
“It will easily be able to accommodate 1,200 people,” Crenshaw said. “We’ll start out with two services on Sunday mornings because one service won’t do it.”
In addition to the massive space, a stage, taking up most of one wall, shares access with a side door, big enough to fit a car through, and accents a three-screen display above it.
“We developed the room and the stage to have a panoramic view to keep people, even seated on the back row, as close as possible,” Crenshaw said.
The majority of funding for the $5 million fellowship hall has come from church members, with area businesses also stepping in to donate funds and materials to the project.
“Our people have been incredible,” Crenshaw said. “The majority of the congregation has been a part of this journey and of Project 602. They have a desire to help us make an impact.”
As part of Project 602, named after the 602,000 residents within a 20-mile radius of the church, expansion of New River Fellowship isn’t just happening in Parker County.
Currently, New River Fellowship has active life groups throughout Mineral Wells and is also involved with Center of Life, a local benevolence ministry.
“Things are going great in Mineral Wells,” Crenshaw said.
New River is also growing on the other side of Parker County with the recent purchase of a church in Benbrook six weeks ago.
“We think of it as an adoption,” Crenshaw said of the relationship between New River and Ridgelife Church. “Benbrook approached us a few weeks ago and told us they were excited about the things that we were doing and wanted to be a part of it.
“It’s a wonderful church and a fantastic building and we’re happy to be able to bring them into our family.”
For more information on the progress of New River Fellowship Church, visit www.newriver.tv.