Cary News

Raleigh’s Hope Church expanding into Apex

Hope Church, a Raleigh-based congregation, will soon begin construction on a new church in Apex as part of its expansion plans.

The nondenominational church, founded in 1994 by Mike Lee, has grown from four families to thousands while preaching adult Baptism and a literal translation of the Bible.

It now has locations in Raleigh, Morrisville, Holly Springs and Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, with plans to build locations in Apex and at least two other Triangle towns in the next five years.

“We have a strong amount of our congregation who already lives in Apex and either drives to Raleigh or Holly Springs,” said Joe Woolworth, the church’s creative media director. “So we’re excited to bring this closer for them.”

Hope Church conducts large masses – it averages 8,500 worshipers every weekend – and has more paid staff than some churches have members. It also hosts smaller group meetings, Bible studies, volunteer opportunities and other events.

The new Apex building, which was approved last week by the Apex Town Council, will be at 2080 E. Williams St., at the site of the former Morton Metalcraft Building.

The sanctuary will hold 1,400 seats in a two-story, 150,000-square-foot building.

Outside, there will be a beach volleyball court, bike racks and two playgrounds.

Woolworth said he thinks Hope Church has grown so much because of the focus on applying scripture to everyday life.

“We have people who come from other church backgrounds, people who have been burned out by bad experiences or overly religious experiences,” he said.

While the church offers a literal interpretation of the Bible, Woolworth said the difference is how the sermon is preached. He said Lee, the church’s founder, is an inspiring and relevant speaker.

“You walk away with something you feel applies to your life, not just some arbitrary, esoteric message,” Woolworth said.

An opening date for the new Apex church has not been announced.

Woolworth also declined to say the towns the church is looking to move to. But he said church leaders are intent on growing an even stronger presence.

“Our ultimate goal is to have enough campuses so that everyone in the Triangle is within 15 minutes of a Hope campus,” Woolworth said.

The church also offers niche ministries for singles, business people, college students and families with special needs children, among other groups, Woolworth said, to encourage closer interactions among such a large membership.

On the weekends, people come to mass. Throughout the week, smaller groups meet, and the church operates a daycare – open to anyone, not just church members.

Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford said he doesn’t foresee any traffic problems at the new location, near the intersection of N.C. 55 and N.C. 540.

Radford said that while Hope is expanding the building, the town won’t require them to make any road improvements due to the anticipated traffic increases in the future.

Many new developments in Apex have been met with resistance, but Radford said no one spoke out against the church’s plan at a public hearing, so the town council unanimously approved the plan.