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January 11, 2014

Branch church adds full-time pastor; Theater-based campus growing

With the unexpectedly quick growth of Emmanuel Baptist Church’s west campus, Pastor David Streets is leaving the church’s main campus to work there full time.

The west campus at Westwood Plaza Theatre & Cafe, 1910 Minno Drive, opened about 15 months ago to help the church reach a different part of town.

“It grew faster than we anticipated,” Streets said. “It’s a laid-back setting.”

Streets added that while he is familiar with people in this part of town, it will be a change to concentrate only on this area.

“I’ve preached (at the main campus in Richland Township) for the last 10 years,” Streets said.

He said that on average, 125 to 150 people attend services at the west campus, leaving the theater 75 to 80 percent full. He added that 10 to 15 children attend the weekly service.

Streets said the campus will add a second service, but there are no plans to add a third service or change to a permanent building.

“A lot of the stuff we do will either be at homes or in the office. We can get up to 400 people (in the theater),” he said. “We’re not going to move to a new site for a while.”

The campus has a children’s ministry and he is looking at the logistics of potentially adding a nursery for children younger than 4 years of age.

Blake Fleegle, owner of the Westwood Plaza theater, said he is happy to house the church at his business and is willing to do anything to accommodate them.

“When he came up with the plan for the children’s ministry, we created a room in an unused hallway that I now also use for parties,” Fleegle said.  “So if he chooses to create a nursery, we’ll work to find a way to make that happen.”

With David Streets’ departure from the main campus, Pastor Ray Streets II, lead pastor at the main campus, said Pastor Kirk Rowland will take over speaking at the 9:30 a.m. services. Some of David Streets’ previous duties such as conducting funerals and visiting hospitals will be distributed between the pastors remaining at the main campus, Ray Streets said.

“We’re just one church in two locations,” Ray Streets said. “We’re sharing personnel and resources.”

Ray Streets said there are no plans to extend the church to other locations.

“We’ve had people ask us to open a north and south campus, but we’re not looking at that right now,” he said.

David Streets said an office for the west campus was opened at 12 Entrance Drive and an open house will be held there in February.

The office can be reached at 619-0320.

Katie Smolen of Johnstown is serving an internship at The Tribune-Democrat during a winter-session break at Edinboro University, where she is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communications.

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