Church displaced by Walmart moving to Columbia County

A 1,500-member church plans to move to a new site in Columbia County in spring 2013 when its building is torn down for a new Walmart Supercenter on Wrightsboro Road.


New Life Christian Center, 3336 Wrightsboro Road, recently began a capital fundraising campaign to build a 65,000-square-foot building on Lewiston Road about a mile from Interstate 20, Pastor Bryan Matthews said.

Money from the sale of the property to Walmart will be added to its $3 million fundraising goal to build the facility, which will cost $5 million to $7 million, Matthews said.

“The land we’re moving to, we’ve had for 16 years,” he said. “We knew at some point in our future we would be moving to that location.”

Walmart approached the church last summer about building a 152,000-square-foot store on its property near North Leg Road. The company announced plans for the store in January and has since said construction should start in March 2013.

Matthews and his wife, Rhonda, purchased 32 acres of farmland on Lewiston Road one year after they founded the church. Since then, they have led worship from buildings near Lake Olmstead and behind Augusta Mall. The current facility opened in June 2005 after millions of dollars in renovations, Matthews said.

For the new church campus, the first of a two-phase construction process must be completed by next spring. The new building will serve as a sanctuary until its transition into a multipurpose gymnasium when the second phase is completed, Matthews said.

“We’re really under the gun because we’ve got to be built so we can move out of here and into the new one,” he said. “We really just believe in God that things will be seamless for us in this transition.”

Matthews said the church isn’t moving to accommodate membership growth but will add at least one Sunday service to the two already scheduled.

New Life Christian Academy, a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school for 63 students housed at the current facility, will not continue in the first years of the new church campus.