The Corner Church of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, is celebrating the first full year of its official planting, which took place September 2018. This planting is the fourth in a series of a hopeful 50 plants in the Charleston, South Carolina, area, beginning in 2011 with Providence Wesleyan Church in Summerville.
Andre Winters, The Corner Church lead pastor, has made a point to develop a unified focus of community and family as he works with fellow leaders to grow the church.
“One of the heartbeats of our church plant is not just to have a really cool service on the weekend but to be a family and community that people can be a part of and belong,” he said. “It’s so rich to see how people are just growing in their relationships, growing their friendships.”
And this truly plays into the church’s vision statement of being “a church that unites people together and equips them to be carriers of the gospel.”
Stephanie Bastian, The Corner Church worship team member, agreed that the loving servitude and welcoming nature of this church has been a necessary element for the Moncks Corner community.
“Moncks Corner is a quiet place, outside of the busy Charleston area,” Bastian said. “I believe this city needs to be brought together. The Corner Church reaches out to the people of this city, bringing them together with activities and gifts, showing them the love of God and creating relationships that are wholesome and giving.”
Bastian said she has personally experienced the natural inclusivity of the church and its people. She describes herself as someone who is not the “typical Christian” one would find in church, with “crazy colors” in her hair, tattoos and a nose piercing.
“Not only did Pastor Andre and his wife, Erin, accept me into their church, but they also invited me to sing on the worship team and invited my husband to play bass,” she said, explaining that her husband is not a believer. “They never turned us away or treated us differently because of how we look or the fact that my husband is unsure of his faith.”
Bastian believes this openness and willingness from the Winters family and others to defy stereotypical and even legalistic expectations will allow the church to reach into the margins, developing a space where all can know they belong, as was done for her and her family.
“Taking the time to love on the people who live in our community helps me to step outside myself and see that God wants more from us as his church, and it helps me teach my children the same,” she said. “It has also helped me to realize the importance of having a church family, people around you who love and encourage you – something I was missing for many years and didn’t even realize.”
The Corner Church began with three families meeting in a local museum for services on Sunday has grown to 75 people in attendance, and services have moved to the local middle school.
Despite its location in the Bible Belt and the encouraging growth The Corner Church is experiencing, Winters said he and other church leaders are witnessing a mass of broken hearts in Moncks Corner, a brokenness The Corner Church is aiming to heal through equipping disciples and loving like Christ.
“While many people have grown up in church, or been exposed to church or the belief that they’ve been following God, they haven’t really lived in a real relationship with Jesus; they haven’t really been walking the steps of what it means to be a disciple and to really have a true friendship with God,” he said.
The Corner Church is opening an opportunity for people to do just that, and Winters says it has been beautiful to watch long-time church attenders experience God in a new and beautiful way.
“What we’ve really seen happening in the life of our church plant the last year is a lot of grandparents, who feel like they’ve been going to church for 30 years, be kids again in their faith and really love Jesus,” he said.
As Winters considers the coming years of The Corner Church, he said the goal of emphasizing unity is to eventually reach into the multiethnic needs of the community. Winters explained that, as a highly diverse area, proximity to Charleston’s divisions between people and people groups run deep.
“There’s so much bitterness and hatred that each group has towards each other,” Winters said. “And so, we’re praying for God to, within our church family, unite people together, for God to use us as a new church, to build bridges in our city.
“We dream for our church to reflect our community because we’ve been deeply convinced that [this diversity] is exactly what heaven will be like. And Jesus told us to pray for heaven on earth. We are just chasing after that. We dream of seeing people turn the corner to embark on a journey with Jesus that will forever change them,” he said.