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Spreading the Gospel: Hope Point takes regional approach
Hope Point Nazarene services:
Linda: East Campus, Yuba College Theater, 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
Live Oak: 2727 Fir St., 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Sunday.
Yuba City: 800 N. George Washington Boulevard, 6 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday.
The roughly 25-minute drive from Plumas Lake to western Yuba City for church service at Hope Point Nazarene isn't a hard task in itself for the Bradfords. But for a family of four interested in ministry and outreach, not just weekly worship, Hope Point's recently established east campus at Yuba College offers a greater opportunity for involvement.
It's just what lead pastor the Rev. Gary Moore and other officials had in mind when they decided to transform the Linda college's theater into a space for worship and praise on Sunday mornings.
The move represents the latest expansion for Hope Point's family of churches, known as Yuba City First Church of the Nazarene until its growth into outlying communities.
"I thought about how do you make a maximum impact in a community," Moore said about the regional model's foundation.
The pastor came to Yuba City 16 years ago and has since helped establish a growing footprint of fellowship, ministry and outreach. Before the Yuba County endeavor, a combined Live Oak and Gridley campus with about 250 members was added to the mix several years ago.
Sean Tollenaar and his family of Wheatland have attended Hope Point since 1998 and said the quaint setting at Yuba College has brought about a level of leadership and degree of people being "plugged in" not always noticeable in larger settings.
"It is amazing how many leaders are in this church," he said.
A member of the Hope Point church board and greeter at Yuba College services, Tollenaar said the space has about 100 solid attendees, including college students and Beale Air Force Base families taking advantage of the proximity.
The regional church model approach, Moore said, differs from the more traditional planting or satellite methods in that the new sites don't detach from the mother church's financial and human resources after a few years — instead staying connected to the main operation.
"A church of 100 people couldn't do those things," Moore said, pointing out resources needed for ministries like counseling, youth missions and Vacation Bible School.
Gary Bradford and his family moved to Yuba County from Natomas, where they at one time attended a church plant from Sacramento that would ultimately be on its own.
"It's a little bit of an easier decision to go ahead and be a part of this campus," he said of Hope Point's connection and commitment to the east campus.
The campus held its first service in late October, but Moore and Bradford said staff and the congregation are just starting to reach out in communities like Wheatland, Plumas Lake and at Beale.
"We obviously want to make an impact on this side of the river, and do ministry on this side of the river," Bradford said.
He and his wife, Jennifer, are already doing so by voluntarily running the Naz Cafe, a spot where they serve free coffee and sell doughnuts before and after worship. Bradford said attending the campus has also presented a more intimate setting from the beginning.
"Because it is so small right now, you're seeing generally the same people there each week, so that's great," Bradford said, adding the situation also makes it easier to spot and welcome newcomers.
And it isn't just parishioners who are taking notice of Hope Point's successes.
"I've had quite a few opportunities to go and share what we're doing as a model," Moore said, adding he recently spoke with a representative from a Nazarene district in Texas.
Eye on Yuba County
Hope Point Nazarene lead pastor the Rev. Gary Moore said the church's staff has had Yuba College on its radar for four to five years as a way to accommodate Yuba County communities.
The church once pursued a new construction facility there before the building boom went bust, and even considered refurbishing part of the Peach Tree Mall, he added.
Moore said the church approached Yuba College late last summer over renting the theater space, adding they hope to include another room or two for ministry.
And while a more permanent building will likely be pursued at some point, Moore said things are going well at this time.
"(Yuba College has) been really cooperative," he said. "It's been really neat."
Church greeter Sean Tollenaar agreed, calling the situation a win-win, with Hope Point using the space for worship and the college receiving rent.
A setting for productions by nature, Tollenaar and Moore said the space also presents strong acoustics and lighting, and a well-known location in the community.