The Community Church has dropped the St. Simons moniker off its name as preparations are ongoing to establish a satellite campus at the Glynn Place Mall.
Work has begun in the three adjacent storefronts at the mall that will be transformed into the new church campus this fall. The 14,000-square-foot church will occupy stores that once held Gentleman’s Outfitters, Footlocker and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. Jackson Hewitt will relocate to another part of the mall to help accommodate the church, said Andrew Altman, the mall’s property manager.
The news of the church opening in the mall has generated excitement among the other tenants there.
“I’ve had a lot of good response from mall businesses,” Altman said. “We’re all excited.”
Jon Blankenship, the campus pastor, said this will not be a new church but an extension of the one on St. Simons Island.
“We’re one church with two locations,” he said. “We’re integrating the same things at both campuses. We definitely want to expand our influence.”
The decision to expand was the result of the swelling congregation.
“We have a big issue with parking on St. Simons Island,” he said. “We already had a solid base of people. We had reached capacity a long time ago.”
An estimated 700 mainland residents are part of the church congregation, which is estimated to be more than 3,000 total, Blankenship said. The new campus will enable the church to grow on St. Simons Island and at the new campus in Brunswick. People attending services in both campuses will participate in all church events.
“There’s a need,” he said. “We already had a solid base of people.”
Blankenship said church officials are working with an architect on the design and renovations needed to transform the old storefronts into a church, estimated to seat anywhere from 450 to 500 people.
The focus of the new campus at the beginning will be on Sunday services, including the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services, the Tiny Town services for children ages pre-K through kindergarten and the Kid Jam services for youths from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Blankenship said it’s likely some parishioners from Brunswick will continue to travel to St. Simons Island for Sunday services, while others will choose to go to the new campus. It’s also likely more Brunswick residents will also attend services at the new campus.
Altman said some business owners and employees have already told him they plan to attend church services before the mall opens on Sundays.
Blankenship said other church activities will be conducted on other days, but the primary focus early on is Sunday services. He expects mall businesses to see some of the congregation members shop at the mall or grab brunch at one of the restaurants with their families after services end.
“We’re going to make friends,” he said. “I envision the food court being full.”
Blankenship said the church has signed a three-year lease with an option to renew for another year. Ultimately, the goal is to build a free-standing church in Brunswick.
Altman said he expects the church will be a great addition to the mall.
“It’s been very positive having a church here,” he said. “Sunday’s a busy day at the mall.”