MARIETTA - Posters advertising current motion pictures and coming attractions line the entrance to The Journey Church in Marietta. But that's no problem for the more than 100 people who have been gathering for worship every Sunday at the odyssey Theaters Lafayette Square 7 since the first week of September.
"This is our 10th week, and we've had about 100 people-adults and kids, attending every week," Pastor Cody Parman said prior to Sunday's worship service.
He admits the location may seem a bit unusual for those accustomed to a more traditional church setting, but worshipping in a movie theatre does have its advantages.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Area residents gathered for worship Sunday at The Journey Church in one of the odyssey Theatres at Lafayette Square in Marietta.
Photo by Sam Shawver
The Journey Church meets at 9:45 a.m. Sundays at the odyssey Theaters.
"The seating and acoustics are great," Parman said. "We set up and take down our own portable sound system each Sunday."
Mark Dobbins of Williamstown said the venue works well for worship services.
"I like it. This brings a whole new perspective," he said. "It is different-there are no stained glass windows, for example-but I think it helps people focus more on the worship experience."
* The Journey Church meets at 9:45 a.m. Sundays at the odyssey Theaters Lafayette Square 7, 430 Pike St. in Marietta.
* Adult worship, children's ministry and nursery services available every Sunday.
* For more information: www.thejourneychurchmarietta.com
Coal Run resident Steve Wagner is one of a 20-member team that helped establish The Journey Church back in September.
"Some people may say we're not really in a church, but the real church isn't a building, it's people coming together to worship God," he said.
Wagner said the team is divided into four groups who take turns preparing for each Sunday's services, which includes setting up a larger theatre area for the main worship service, and two smaller theatres for a children's service, as well as a nursery for infants and toddlers.
"Everything's completely portable," Parman said. "We start setting up around 7:30 a.m. and have to tear down and be out of the theatres before noon."
He said the odyssey staff has been great to work with and the company is happy to have the business during the facility's normally idle hours.
Parman, former youth pastor at Williamstown's First Baptist Church, said The Journey Church is the result of a couple of years' planning and a lot of prayer.
"But it's not a Baptist church, we're non-denominational, and anyone is welcome to attend," he said.
The Journey Church came out of Acts 29, a trans-denominational church-planting ministry based in Flower Mound, Texas.
Parman said the Acts 29 network helped The Journey Church get underway.
He said the team looked at several area locations before choosing the theatres for their worship services.
"We weighed our options and decided this would best serve our needs," Parman said. "And our main purpose is to bring glory to God and teach people about Jesus. It's the same gospel message, just in a unique location."
In addition to Sunday services at the theatres, members meet weekly in "Journey groups" at various locations throughout the Marietta, Parkersburg and Vienna areas.
"We could meet anywhere," Parman added. "The church is made up of people-church buildings are just structures. And a lot of new church plantings are choosing to meet in theaters."
Three years ago there were 180 churches leasing space through one national movie theatre rental company-an increase from only three such leases in 2003, according to a 2009 article in Christianity Today.