By Carla Caldwell
Each Sunday at 6 a.m., several members of The Village Church of Dunwoody meet at a storage facility and fill a large truck with the things they will need to conduct their 10 a.m. worship service.
They load sound equipment and a stage, flat TV screens to display scripture and songs, and curtains to cordon off space for a children’s program. Once the truck is packed they head off to the church’s new home – The 1420 Room in Dunwoody Village – where they assemble a sanctuary before the congregation arrives.
The church must rebuild itself each week to make way for other events hosted by the venue, including wedding receptions, birthday parties, and bar mitzvahs.
Starting from scratch takes a lot of work and 6 a.m. comes mighty early, but church members don’t mind, said Amy Schlosser, the church’s director of ministries. “When God is doing something, you want to be a part of it,” she said.
The new nondenominational church is led by longtime Dunwoody pastor Jim Reiter, who was pastor at Dunwoody Community Church for 10 years. Reiter, a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and others formed the church after he was dismissed from his post in February. “I was disappointed, but we are focusing on opportunities ahead,” Reiter said.
A search committee at Dunwoody Community Church continues to look for a new lead pastor, Bryan Marvel, the church’s youth pastor, said Oct.14.
Among Reiter’s goals for the new church is to keep things simple.
“Church doesn’t need to be complicated,” Reiter said. “We’re not so much about what people do at church, but how they serve as individuals away from church. We want to train and equip people to go out and work within their communities to live and spread the Gospel.”
Reiter and his new congregation began meeting over the summer at homes throughout Dunwoody. The group included several members of Reiter’s former church along with their friends and people who heard of the group by word of mouth.
On Sept. 12 they launched The Village Church of Dunwoody in space at Bethany Christian Services on Peachtree Dunwoody Road. Congregants were grateful to be there, but as attendance swelled upwards of 100, they outgrew the space, Schlosser said.
They set their sights on The 1420 Room and this month the church was granted a six-month lease. The venue has space for more than 300 people in one of its larger rooms. Toward the end of the lease both parties will determine if the arrangement is still a good fit, Schlosser said, but for now the congregation is rejoicing in the news.
Church member Rob Suggs said the congregation is thrilled with its new home. “The 1420 Room was the first location we coveted when The Village Church was in the dream stages,” said Suggs. “We wanted to be somewhere around Dunwoody Village, and our name reflects that. We just kept hoping and praying, and now our prayers have been answered with a wonderful place for Sunday morning worship.”
Schlosser said the church wanted to be in a visible space so that people would be inclined to drop in. Now, when people are heading out for coffee on Sunday morning, they might just come by, she said.
It is possible that passers-by will be drawn by the music, which is a focus of the church.
Earlier this month, the congregation hosted Christian music band Revive, whose album “Blink” earned a spot on Billboard’s top albums chart and a Dove Award nomination.
Members also host meetings at their homes throughout the week and participate in community projects. In addition, Reiter said, several congregants will travel to China with a missions program to work in orphanages.
Reiter said he and his wife, Marsha, who are originally from Ohio and have five children in sixth grade through college, feel strongly that are being called by God to spread the Gospel in Dunwoody. He said he is also interested in helping plant and support other churches elsewhere.
A group from The Village Church is working this month in Lexington, Ky., to assist a growing Spanish-language ministry, Iglesia Nueva Vida, with an annual community event. That church has a goal to “reach every one of 50,000 Latinos in Lexington.”
The Village Church’s youth program participants are helping at this month’s Dunwoody Music Festival, said Chip Hogsed, pastor of Youth and Ministry.
“We are very excited to be here in Dunwoody,” said Hogsed. “We hope to make a positive impact for the Lord in not just the [music festival], but in all areas of this amazing community.”
Reiter said The Village Church wants to reach people who may have given up on church.
“There are people who say the reason they don’t go to church is because they did,” he said. “We’re saying, ‘Give church another chance.’”
The Village Church of Dunwoody is at 1420 Dunwoody Village Parkway, Dunwoody, GA 30338. For more information, go to: villagechurchdunwoody.org.