Pastor John Irwin

What would Carolina Forest residents like to see on five acres of undeveloped property on Carolina Forest Boulevard?

Faith Presbyterian Church is actively seeking answers to that question.

“Instead of just planting another church, we would like that property to be an opportunity to serve the community, and in doing so, expose people to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said John Irwin, the church’s pastor.

“So, we’re asking the question in Carolina Forest – what do people think the community needs? Something for the children? For the seniors? For the veterans?”

The property, about four miles from U.S. 501 on the right side of Carolina Forest Boulevard, was purchased about 20 years ago. The original idea, Irwin said, was to build a church.

“It’s obvious we’d like to see a church there, but if we can serve the community and people go to other churches, that’s fine too.”

“We want to fill an unmet niche in the community and serve,” Nancy Nelson, a member of the project’s 10-member task force, said.

Towards that end, a sign on the property asks the community to call or text 843-999-1527 to respond to the Faith Presbyterian Church Carolina Forest Survey and make suggestions.

“The view of a church in a community is that it gets used one, two or maybe three days a week,” said Doug Nelson, also a member of the task force. “We’re looking at a vision where the facility is used much more, in a way the church community can interact and bring useful things into the community.”

Irwin said the church is not looking to duplicate services in The Forest.

“For example,” he said, “Carolina Forest Community Church has a sports program, and we won’t be building football fields to compete with them.

“We don’t need another pre-school either,” he said.

Ideas the task force is already tossing around include dormitory-style housing for groups such as sports teams, mission teams and disaster-relief teams, a food pantry, or a place where DHEC could reach the community with health-related issues.

Also on the table for consideration are a private Christian school, meeting space for affordable senior-oriented uses, and a gym.

Nancy Nelson said the decision-makers are aware that there’s a need for facilities for families who have children with special needs.

“These families don’t always feel like they fit in a regular situation and they might not feel comfortable in a traditional setting.

“If we could provide a place for families with special needs, that would be major.”

Nelson also said a lot of Carolina Forest seniors “are alone and lonely, and we know they’ve outgrown their facility.”

Irwin, who lives in The Forest’s Avalon subdivision, said the new build “would technically be an extension of Faith [Presbyterian Church’s] ministry. And, our hope for that is at some point to have two entities.

“We want them to be more than just a place to spend an hour on Sunday.

“My vision,” he added, “is that it will be there to point to the glory of God and to be used in a helpful way for the community.

We want to be good stewards of this property.”

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