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North Way church will open 5th site

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

North Way Christian Community will open its fifth “campus” church on Sunday in Dormont, representing the Pine-based nondenominational church's first foray into the South Hills.

North Way purchased the former Dormont Presbyterian Church at Potomac and Espy avenues for $500,000 when the old church was merged into another, said Doug Melder, campus pastor at North Way's Oakland campus and overseer of campuses in Dormont, East Liberty and Oakland.

He said expanding to the south was part of the church's plan to reach the entire Pittsburgh region.

“We strategically needed to reach out across the river and through the tunnel,” Melder said. “We love Dormont. There's a lot of future, a lot of life in that community.”

It helped that many worshippers at North Way's other campuses were commuting from Dormont or other parts of the South Hills, including the new campus pastor, John Reilly.

“We already have close to a couple of hundred people; if we count kids, we're at about 240,” said Reilly, a Dormont resident who was promoted from assistant pastor at Oakland to campus pastor in his hometown.

Reilly said this was the first location for North Way in an old-fashioned church with pews and stained-glass windows. The founding church in Pine is in a contemporary, auditorium-style space, the Oakland campus converted an old Chinese restaurant into a church, the Sewickley Heights campus rents space in a school and the East Liberty campus uses the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

Since purchasing the church, volunteers and contractors have cleaned, painted and updated the building, and added the electronics and retractable projection screen that can display prerecorded or broadcast sermons from the Pine campus, Reilly said.

An adjacent wing of the church will host its children's ministry and services. A third wing will be leased by the Mt. Lebanon-based Jubilee Christian School for an expansion of its own.

The church eventually will offer community services depending on need, Reilly said, including group and individual counseling.

Melder said the large church in Dormont will have plenty of room to grow its congregation, and the transfer of some people to Dormont from other campuses will provide space for those others to grow as well.

About 100 people from the Oakland campus moved to Dormont when North Way started holding “friends and family” services there last month, to start working out the kinks of the facility. While anyone was free to visit, Sunday will mark the official opening to the public and new members.

“If the last three weeks were any indication, we're going to need the space,” Melder said.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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