Low turnout forces church to close

May 7, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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With about 50 to 60 regulars attending services, the four-year-old AnchorPoint Church closed last month.
“Newcastle is an area of affluent professionals, who are good at what they do, and as a result, their lives are full,” said Heath Pressley, AnchorPoint pastor. “They may not see the need for a church and don’t feel the need to go to church to feel spiritual.”

AnchorPoint is affiliated with the Puget Sound Baptist Association, 150 churches throughout the Puget Sound area. Church leaders decided in March to cease operation and channel resources toward flourishing churches, Pressley said.

Pressley moved to Newcastle after serving six years as an associate pastor in his hometown of Atlanta. His wife Jennifer is a native of Longview, and the couple was looking to start a church in Western Washington. With only two churches in Newcastle then – Beit Tikvah and the Seattle Revival Center – church officials thought Newcastle was a ripe target, Pressley said.

“We didn’t want to go to a community with 20 churches,” he said. “My wife and I fell in love with Newcastle and we wanted to give it a try.”
AnchorPoint held its services at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Newcastle Elementary School gymnasium. The church was a regular sponsor of civic events, such as Concerts in the Park and Newcastle Days. Last summer, the church sponsored the Independence Day fireworks celebration at Lake Boren Park.

“AnchorPoint did so much in the community,” said City Clerk Bob Baker, who attended services there. “I will miss Heath and his family dearly.”

About 100 church members attended the final service April 27, including Molly Hurd, of Newcastle.
“It’s been that community church that we’ve been longing for here in Newcastle,” she said.

John Jensen, who also attended there, said the community would miss the church.

“Their participation at Newcastle Days, face painting at Concerts in the Park, Easter egg hunts and their involvement with the Chamber of Commerce has had a positive effect on the community,” he said.

Pressley said he is looking for other ministry opportunities and may return to youth ministry. He started the Young Life chapter in Longview.

In appreciation for allowing the church to use the elementary school, the church is donating $1,000 toward unfunded needs there. It is also donating $1,000 to the city for events at Lake Boren Park.

Pressley said his four years in Newcastle have been rewarding.

“If you’ve touched someone’s life, you’ve succeeded,” he said.

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