Mechanicsville Christian Center, founded in 1975, is one of several Assemblies of God congregations in the greater Richmond area. The Assemblies of God, a relatively new denomination that originated in the early 1900’s, is now the largest charismatic denomination in the world. The denomination’s beliefs are roughly those of most Evangelicals; the Assemblies of God, however, believe that there are physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence in a person that include ecstatic forms of worship.
The Center built a new sanctuary for the new millennium that holds over 1,200 people. Parishioners and pastors dress casually for the church’s five weekly services that draw more than a thousand worshipers each week. The church meets for a Sunday morning service, and a separate children’s service runs concurrently. Middle-school children have their own service called “theMix 6:eight” on Sunday nights, and high-school students worship at a similar service on Tuesdays called the “theMIX nine:12.” Both of the youth services start with an open café and game time. On Tuesday nights, a fifth worship service, called “the jerni” (pronounced, “journey”) meets for music, sermons and support. The group’s motto: “We’re in it for love” expresses the group’s secondary function: finding suitable spouses for single church-members. The church also has small groups that meet in individual homes or at the church.
The church’s structure and hierarchy are typical of its denomination with one exception: although the Assemblies of God encourage the ordination of women, in this church all of the pastors are male. The current senior pastor is a native of Mechanicsville and has worked at the church in different capacities since 1982. In addition to the pastor, there are four assistant pastors: lead worship/fine arts; adult pastor, children’s ministries and student ministries. The church has fourteen staff members and both a board of deacons and trustees. The deacons are democratically elected by the congregation, but act only in advisory or administrative roles. The trustees of the church have authority to act on behalf of the church in all business matters as directed by the church’s senior pastor.
The church has a wide variety of ministries grouped into seventeen categories. One category is the “Care” group of ministries which includes a ministry for the elderly, a funeral ministry, a benevolence ministry (helping needy members), a support group for those affected by suicide, an outreach program for disabled adults and their families, and a health-promotion ministry called the Parish Nurses. Another category of ministries is called “In Crisis;” it includes a counseling agency called Resource Guidance, a home that provides pre-adoption care for pregnant teenagers, a crisis pregnancy center and a ministry for post-abortion trauma counseling. The missions group of ministries includes home or urban ministries, an outreach to low-income areas of the United States; Bridge-Builders, a program that teaches inter-generational mentoring; a ministry for supporting foreign missionaries, and a program called “LINK,” which stands for “Leading Innovatively Niger to the Kingdom. “ The purpose of the latter program, according the group’s website, is to provide the impoverished, Islamic nation of Niger the physical and spiritual resources to become a self-sustaining Christian nation by the next decade. Other categories of ministry include media, men’s ministries, women’s ministries, worship arts, small group and connection ministries. The church also hosts weekly meetings for the Lighthouse Deaf Ministry, Overcomer’s Outreach, a 12-step recovery program; a Women’s Co-Dependency Support Group and the church’s scouting groups, the Missionettes and the Rangers. Also offered by the church are Bible courses as well as parenting and marriage enrichment programs.
Mechanicsville Christian Center
8061 Shady Grove Road
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
Mechanicsville Christian Center website
Assemblies of God website
Profile prepared by Christine Woodman