Eastridge Community Church breaks ground on Jackson Lake Campus

Eastridge Community Church recently broke ground on a Jackson Lake Campus. Shown here at the groundbreaking are, from left, Denny Hewell, SteelCo owner and vice-president of sales; Jason Smith, SteelCo owner and vice-president of construction, and Eastridge elder; Gary Thompson, pastor at Eastridge Jackson Lake Campus; Scott Moore, Eastridge lead pastor; Samuel Ozburn, Eastridge elder; Dalton Knox, Eastridge elder; and Kyle Anderson, Eastridge elder. (Special Photo)

Eastridge Community Church recently broke ground on its second campus in Newton County. The church, which began holding worship services in Covington in 1989, has now started construction on another location that will serve the Jackson Lake community. The new facility is being built at 14200 Highway 36.

“Our overall plan is to create churches in every corner of every county that God places us in,” Eastridge Pastor Scott Moore said. “That goes back to the Great Commission, which is to ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations’ — Matthew 28:19. We love Newton County and want to reach every corner of the county. We have a campus on the east side and on the south side and we’re praying about campuses on the north and west sides.”

Moore, who has led the Covington congregation since 2008, said the worshipers at Eastridge are dedicated to reaching people for the Lord.

“We are able to do this because of the faith and generosity of the people of Eastridge,” the pastor said. “Faith and service go hand in hand. Our members have a history of reaching out. They have a history of service. They love God and therefore, love people and are reaching others.”

Eastridge Community Church will host Celebration Sunday on Aug. 14, for the congregations of both campuses and all area residents. The event will be held at the FFA Camp at 5 p.m. and the church invites everyone to join them in celebrating four years of ministry at Jackson Lake, as well as other blessings the church has enjoyed.

Eastridge began a ministry at Jackson Lake in 2012, with the new congregation meeting at Alcovy High School. In 2016, the church launched its REACH Campaign to raise money to build a permanent facility for the Jackson Lake campus, as well as for improvements and renovations to its Covington campus.

This summer, Eastridge broke ground for its permanent Jackson Lake campus to be built at the corner of Scout Road and Highway 36. During the afternoon ceremony, ground was broken at the new site by the pastors and staff of Eastridge, as well as its elders, including Sammy Ozburn, Jason Smith, Kyle Anderson and Dalton Knox.

Eastridge Community Church began as Grace Fellowship Church in November of 1989, when a group of families began meeting in the living room of its founding pastor, the Rev. Rob Raynor. The church met at the Best Western hotel on Alcovy Road and then moved to space at the Covington Crossing shopping center before moving into a building on Flat Shoals Road in 1990. The church changed its name to Eastridge Community Church in 1998.

That same year, Eastridge began holding its Sunday morning services at Eastside High School while construction was completed on its current facilities at 863 Highway 142. While the Jackson Lake campus is under construction, work has also begun on renovations to the auditorium at the church’s Covington location.

Moore became part of Eastridge Community Church about nine months after it started and has served as pastor for about eight years. Originally from Moncks Corner, S.C., Moore graduated from Atlanta Christian College in 1993, and joined the staff of Eastridge as youth pastor in 1990, then serving as associate pastor before becoming lead pastor. He and his wife, Tracy have five sons — Jacob, 25; Cameron, 22, who recently married Christa Blackaby; Trevor, 19; Nathan 11 and Kage, 4.

Pastor Gary Thompson will lead the Jackson Lake congregation. Originally from Newport News, Va., Thompson is a 1987 graduate of Atlanta Christian College and joined the staff at Eastridge as associate pastor in 2002. He became pastor of the Jackson Lake campus when it opened in 2012. Thompson and his wife, Leslie have four children — Marissa, 23, who recently married David Biglow; Meredith, 20; Micah, 16 and Mitchell, 15.

“We’re so excited about what’s going on down at the Jackson Lake campus,” Thompson said. “For four years, we have been in a temporary space, so having a permanent space for services and meetings is exciting. It’s important for our community that we be a place that provides hope and life change to those who are struggling or just need Jesus Christ.”

Chris Queen, who serves as director of communications for Eastridge Community Church and whose family was part of the original founding group that met in 1989, said the church is partnering with SteelCo on the new Jackson Lake campus.

“During the renovation on our Covington campus, our worship center auditorium is closed,” Queen said. “We’re holding Sunday morning and Thursday night Celebrate Recovery services in our activity center auditorium.

“We would love for anybody to come visit us,” Queen said, adding that the Covington campus will have Vacation Bible School July 10-13. Sunday, July 10, will be family night and parents will worship and take part in activities with their kids. For July 11-13, traditional VBS programming will be offered.

Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Walton County. Contact her at bethslaughtersexton@gmail.com.

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