Responses included a dog park and a Jewish synagogue when Faith Presbyterian Church asked the community what it would like to see on the church’s Carolina Forest Boulevard property.
In August, the church posted a sign on the property asking the community to call or text suggestions to a 10-member task force about what the church might build on the five acres that have been undeveloped for 20 years, since the land was purchased.
Originally, the idea was for the property to house a church.
However, Pastor John Irwin has said, “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.”
Faith Presbyterian Church is at 805 79th Ave. N. in Myrtle Beach. During the winter months, attendance is under 100, and it’s about 125 during the summer.
There were only about 30 responses to the sign that was posted, and that surprised Irwin, who thought more residents would have opinions.
“Those responses included a wide range of things from the hilarious to the more serious,” he said.
One person asked that they not develop the property at all.
“They said there aren’t enough trees in Carolina Forest, and that it isn’t a forest without trees,” Irwin said.
Other suggestions, along with the dog park and synagogue, included a multi-purpose building, something specifically for veterans, and a safe place for children to go after school.
What has been decided, the pastor said, is that the property will be developed. Beyond that, no decisions have been made.
In early December, there was a meeting to decide if the church would go ahead and develop the property, and it was decided to do so.
But exactly how and for what purpose – they’re still praying about that.
“We are at the point of exploring building a multi-purpose building and using it for different kinds of outreach and ministry,” Irwin said.
But, that’s as far as they’ve gotten.
“What that will look like…we haven’t said we’ll do X or Y.”
Everything depends on money, Irwin said.
“We have a couple sister churches in our denomination here on the Grand Strand, and if they jumped in, it would happen faster.
“If we did an after-school tutoring program or if we rented the building to groups, that would allow us to pay for the maintenance.
“There are lots of things we can do to reach the community even though it might not look like ministry.
“It all depends on what someone’s definition of ‘ministry’ is,” the pastor said. “Whatever we do will contain Christian elements because we want to use the property to bring people to Christ as well as to reach out to the community.”
Irwin said the church members will continue to pray about the best use of the property.
“He can certainly give us the answer through prayer, but sometimes, he doesn’t always give us the blueprint.
“He gives us the desire or the nudge, and then He asks us to use our brains and resources to put it together.
Irwin said on the one hand, the church wants to help the community, while at the same time, “We not only want to give temporary help, we want to give eternal help.”
“I’d love to get this done,” Irwin said, “But we’re Presbyterian, and we don’t move fast.”