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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Students Remain Faithful as Local Church Expands

    True North Community Church in Port Jefferson has become a destination point on Sundays for many college students, but its rapid growth is forcing the church to move to a larger building in Holtsville. Its two pastors said they’re hoping that their young congregation will follow.

    Since this non-denominational Christian church first opened its doors in September 2005, it has had to make adjustments to accommodate its growth.

    “We started with one [service] in the morning and one at night and we just kept adding on,” said Michael Brennan, 37, the associate pastor.

    Now the church holds three services each Sunday morning and another two at night, with seating for approximately 215 people at a time. There is also a room across from the main sanctuary filled with a few circular tables where congregation members can sit and watch the service on a projection screen.

    Karen Warren, 55, has been a member of the Village of Faith Church in Farmingville for 20 years, six of them as an elder. She said that she believes some of the growth within churches over the past few months could be attributed to the country’s economic troubles.

    “It’s a little bit like when 9/11 happened. After that churches were filled up,” Warren said. “It takes crisis for people to realize they can’t do it on their own.”

    Brennan said the goal at True North is to make everyone feel welcome from the moment they walk in the door. “We try to make all our messages applicable so that people can go out and use them in their lives,” Brennan said.

    Although the purchase of the new building has not yet been finalized, Brennan said he expects the deal to close within the next month.

    “One thing is for sure, the current building is sold and a new congregation is coming in here,” he said.

    According to Brennan, the building at the new site will hold about 150 more people per service than the current one, and with vacant land to spare the church could expand even further someday.

    Brennan confirmed that the congregation does include a significant number of college students from both Stony Brook University and Suffolk County Community College’s Selden campus. He added that college students and young adults account for nearly all of the church’s attendance at its night services.

    Brennan said he is confident that those students will follow the church to its new location. “We already have people who drive from all over the place, even some from Nassau,” he said.

    Bertrand Crabbe, 37, the senior pastor, doesn’t foresee the new location being much of an issue, either.

    “I don’t think it will affect our college population,” Crabbe said. “It’s about the same distance from Stony Brook University and quite a bit closer to some other campuses.”

    But Mario Botros, 20, a Stony Brook student who lives in Lake Grove, said his attendance might become less frequent as a result of the added distance between his home and the church. Botros has been attending True North for the past six months and understands the reason behind the move. “They really need it. A lot of people go there regularly,” he said. Dan Fruhauf, 21, a junior from Port Jefferson, is a member of an eight-person leadership team for Lumina, a social group for college students within the church.

    “I think that the ties that have been made with the Stony Brook University crowd and True North Church are strong bonds that don’t just get marginalized by distance,” Fruhauf said. “These bonds run deep, to Frisbee games we’ve had, to the long talks about God’s plans at the university.”

    Fruhauf also said he thinks that the church is attractive to college students because “when they look around, they see people their own age actually an intricate part of things.”

    While no one would reveal the exact location of the new building until the sale has been finalized, Brennan emphasized that the new location is easily accessible. “It’s right off of Nicolls Road and the expressway,” he said.

    According to Crabbe, the church plans to close its doors in May and get the new building ready in June. If all goes as planned, the church would hold its first services at the new facility in July.

    As for a correlation between the growth of the church and the current economic recession, Brennan thinks that it makes a lot of sense. “People are hurting and when that happens they want to find something beyond themselves,” Brennan said. “People are looking for God.”

    Fruhauf said he doesn’t think that college students will abandon the church when it moves. “True North embodies the call to the next generation; that is why so many students attend,” Fruhauf said, “We want to answer that call.”

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