VillageChurch celebrates 20 years

BLYTHEWOOD – When Erik Estep moved his young family out to a little house on Loner Road in 2002 to plant a new church in Blythewood, there were five people in attendance at the first VillageChurch service – Estep, his wife Emily and their three children.

Estep

Next Sunday, March 27, the Esteps will celebrate not only VillageChurch’s 20th anniversary, but a successful planting that has grown to a thousand members and has spread influence and inspiration to the four corners of the community.

Estep said VillageChurch has grown, “by the Grace of God and because the people who come here to worship are people who want to ‘do.’

“We have seven full time staff members, four part time staff and a ton of volunteers,” he said. “And they make a difference. We absolutely never have to beg any of them to work. ”

It’s the volunteers, Estep said, who are the backbone of the church’s involvement in the community.

“The Blythewood schools offer many areas of service for our church,” he said.

“We provide a post-game party for Blythewood High School every home game, feed the football players before games and our men run 1st down markers at both Blythewood and Westwood high schools,” Estep said, and VillageChurch bears all the costs for all their events, participation and activities.

Once a year at the elementary schools, they provide Muffins for Moms, Donuts for Dads and Grits for Grandparents.

The church also sponsors several annual community events, drawing hundreds, sometimes thousands – Easter Eggstravaganza on April 16 at Doko Meadows this year, Lake Scare-O-Lina in October at The Farm, a revival and a movie night both at Doko Meadows. Most events provide refreshments and some provide hot dogs, barbeque sandwiches, soft drinks and sweets. All provide lots of family fun.

VillageChurch events are not fundraisers; they are free for anyone to attend.

“The only fundraiser we have is the Village Open Golf Tournament in May,” he said. “The funds we raise go to scholarships for area students.”

With all the community activity spawned by VillageChurch, the core of Estep’s mission is teaching the Bible and bringing souls to Christ.  Besides Sunday morning services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., the church offers Bible classes for men on Mondays at 6 p.m., for women on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., and for youth on Wednesdays (middle schoolers at 5:45 p.m., high schoolers at 7 p.m.)

“Over 200 attend these classes,” he said.

During VillageChurch’ first six months of existence in Blythewood, 13 people attended a Bible study. After that, Estep began holding regular services at Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School. By the end of 2002, the congregation had moved to Lake Carolina where membership increased from 70 to 300 by 2009.

“That’s the year we moved to our current location on 15 acres on Rimer Pond Road and built our first building,” Estep said.

By 2013, the congregation had outgrown that building and a new one was built alongside the first one.

Today, more than a thousand members worship at VillageChurch and Estep is overseeing the process of planting a new church in the former Park Street Baptist Church building in Columbia’s Elmwood neighborhood.

“Emily and I are absolutely amazed at what God has done at VillageChurch,” Estep said. “It’s a great church because of God’s grace. He’s been incredibly faithful to us.”

The celebration will begin Sunday morning, beginning with services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., when Governor Henry McMaster will deliver a virtual message of congratulations and support. Birthday festivities and a Christian entertainer will be in the children’s ministry.

A special service will be held at 6 p.m., when several members will talk about how they came to the church. There will also be music, singing, a celebratory message and all followed with refreshments.

“We hope that the community will come to either the morning or the evening service or both.” Estep said. “It’s going to be a wonderful day with lots going on.”

The church is located at 574 Rimer Pond Road.

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