Besides serving up wins and losses in its new gym, Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church also hopes to win new souls for Jesus.
The Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness (HPH) Church Outreach Center opened the doors Jan. 2 to a new full-size gymnasium, weight room and kitchen. The project had been in the works since the church opened at its new site on Virginia Street in 2014.
“God has definitely blessed us. I want to tie into people in the community, not just church people. I want to get people that don’t go to church to come in here and invite them to church and share the gospel,” said HPH Church Pastor Jeff Pickett. “We want to get people in church that may never dream of going to church. Whatever method, the word of God is still the same. I have people already that will come because of that weight room. They would probably never come to church but now they come there and now I see them in the church.”
The brand-spanking new gym features a full-length, 94-foot basketball court – the same size as Carroll County High School’s gym. While it only has two regulation goals, the gym can be split to let some people play volleyball while others shoot hoops. The church has already hosted an AAU volleyball tournament and a homeschool basketball game. The hope is the gym will be another option for Carroll County to use. A regulation scoreboard is also included, while bleachers that seat up to 300 people will be installed in April.
In addition to the weight room, the HPH Outreach Center also features a full commercial kitchen which can be used to sell concessions out of during games and tournaments or to cook large meals for other events.
“We want to sow into our community and do what we can to give us a chance to share the gospel. We are also a Red Cross shelter in case of emergencies and we do have two defibrillators coming,” Pickett said. “We allow people to cook here and it is certified with the hood.”
All of that was very expensive, Pickett said, but the church raised much of the funds through various yard sales and bake sales, in addition to folks who donated and helped in other ways. A new refrigerator in the kitchen retails for $5,500, for instance, but Pickett was able to purchase it for $600 from a church in South Carolina.
Pickett said everyone in the community is welcome to use the new facilities as long as they follow the ground rules. The main requirement is for participants to take part in a short devotion at the top of each hour. The HPH Church Outreach Center will also host the church’s youth ministries and will soon begin to offer afterschool programs for students on Wednesday afternoons.
The gym is already being heavily used, Pickett said, estimating more than 700 people have already come to walk during weekday mornings. Donation boxes will be put up throughout the facility. It is not a requirement to use the free gym, Pickett said. Additionally, work will begin soon on a new ball field and 90 new parking spaces to compliment the outreach center.
“We have the infield dirt hauled in so we should be able to do about anything we want this summer as far as having maybe a mini-camp or something for the kids. That is the goal,” Pickett said. “Carroll County has the Wellness Center and stuff, but really that is it. What happens if you don’t have the money to do that? The Wellness Center is a great thing and I don’t want to take from any place. I want to be a helpmate to any of those places, but most of all to share Jesus, and little kids is where to start. It is for any age. I believe in a ministry to reach all ages, so God has blessed us.”
The gym will be open most days from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday except Wednesday nights, and a weekly schedule can be found on the church’s Facebook page or on its website. Exceptions will be in case the church has a birthday party, wedding or another event. Church members will have the first priority. The weight room will be usually be open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Pickett said participants do have to sign a waiver form before using the outreach center. Ground rules include calling Pickett or his wife in case of an accident, signing in and out for each visit, no fussing or foul language, no tobacco products or alcohol, picking up after yourself, and take part in the hourly devotion.
“We have internet service in here, wireless for homework and anything like that. It’s open to the people,” Pickett said. “We have a sound system and we’ve got a 30-foot TV screen on the wall. We will do a Super Bowl party. We will do food and we will start doing a Christian movie night.”
Both bathrooms also have a shower. It’s another great way to reach the community if people in the county lose power for an extended period of time.
“A couple of years ago power was out at the old church and toward Hard Scuffle Road on Thanksgiving. If we could have had showers then, we could have helped them.” Pickett said. “It’s God (that’s helped do this) and I am proud of our community. I want people to know that the yard sales, everything they support us when we do our meals, this is where the money is going, and it is to benefit our community and to share Jesus Christ and to help the hurting and broken.”
Pickett said the church has a tremendous outreach program right now, bringing around 1,300 new souls to Jesus in 2016. The church now has 591 members – an incredible number considering HPH had just 11 members when Pickett began pastoring at the old church on Main Street.
“It ain’t about me, God gets all the glory and I want people to understand they can come and use this. We do charge a fee if it is somebody that is not a church member for like birthday parties and weddings, we charge a flat fee of $400,” Pickett said. “We don’t care who they are if they are not a church member. We have to draw a line somewhere because we have to have somebody to clean, the toiletry they use and all that. We try to make it where they can afford it but still cover a little bit of the expense. Other than that it is free. We also want to thank the community for their giving and their support, and our church family for all their giving and sacrifice to see this happen to reach the community.”