Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A longtime Cincinnati-area church, facing an explosion of growth in membership since 2011, is headed to West Chester Township.
Nondenominational CityGate Church will expand its reach Sunday with the opening of a satellite location at Savannah Center, 5533 Chappel Crossing Blvd. in the Union Centre area.
“My vision is to establish a hub and from that hub establish satellites all over the area,” said Eric Petree, who is a senior pastor at CityGate. “We had one church. If there is one way to stop the blessings of God it is to not have room for more (people).”
That is exactly the situation at CityGate Church in Elmwood Place, where Petree, 34, and his wife, Kimberly, took over as senior pastors in 2007 after Petree’s father, Leon, retired after 40 years.
The church began 85 years ago in a small storefront on Linn Street in Cincinnati’s West End and moved to its present location in the 1970s. Church attendance had dwindled over the years to about 85 people attending Sunday services by 2008, Petree said. Until recently the church was known as Towne Worship Center.
Since 2011, that weekly attendance has catapulted to 1,000 worshipers, prompting church officials to move services from the sanctuary to the church’s multipurpose building, which is now bursting at the seams each Sunday for services that are heavy on multimedia and illustrative preaching, he said. (Petree has ridden a horse and a motorcycle into church to make a point.)
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