A newly opened branch of a Jesup church is looking to make a strong impression on the Brunswick area by helping the community.

“We started in February 2009 in a conference room in Jesup, and we just really had a vision of a community of faith that reached outside the four walls of the church,” said Turning Point Worship Center head Pastor Justin Mitchell.

After great success in Jesup — the church recently dropped $400,000 on a student and children’s ministry expansion — Mitchell said the church felt called to Brunswick.

Practically every step along the way has been facilitated by providence, he said. Donations, in some cases in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, helped the church get off the ground in Jesup, build and add onto the church buildings and put on a variety of community- and benefit- focused events every year.

That trend continued with plans to plant a church in Brunswick, which were made possible by a generous donation from a local couple and Norwich Baptist Church’s offer to use its facilities to hold services on Sunday evenings.

“We’re trying to get through this phase of building it up and getting the core, and our intention is to secure a permanent location,” Mitchell said.

Aside from providing a place of worship, he explained Turning Point wants to become a fixture in the community — especially for those in need as it has in Wayne County. There, the church puts on annual events for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and the like, but he was particularly proud of a prom for special needs students from Wayne and surrounding counties.

The event is a partnership with community organizations, of which many were unaffiliated with Turning Point beforehand. The same could be said for the annual Christmas store, where needy families can shop for toys free of charge.

“We actually go buy brand new toys, it would be $10,000 to $15,000, and our church family helps raise the money,” Mitchell said. “There’s business owners that gave who have never been in the church, they just believe in the mission and want to make it happen.”

It’s events like this Mitchell and the church want to bring to Brunswick. An outbreak of the highly contagious respiratory disease COVID-19 put many of their plans on the back burner, however.

“Our intention before COVID was to do the Christmas store experience here in Brunswick. Obviously COVID shook that up, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to go full-steam ahead with it,” Mitchell said.

It was going to be a first for Mitchell as well as Brunswick. Turning Point was one of his first forays into leading a church after pursuing the goal. He didn’t always intend on being a pastor.

“I wanted to go to Atlanta to be an accountant, but ended up dating (Nicole), who is my wife now,” Mitchell said. “She went to a church, and my wife helped bring me into the faith, you could say. I had seen the difference in her life, the joy she had, and it got my interest. I started going and never quit going.”

After being called away from that career path, he sought a religious education online and returned to his hometown of Jesup to lead the congregation that would become Turning Point Worship Center.

Turning Point Brunswick has been holding sermons for a few months, but Thanksgiving marked the first community engagement event for the local congregation of 40-50. Next up is a Christmas drive-thru food distribution on Dec. 10 for families in need. Along with a box of food, provided by Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, Mitchell said the church will be giving out gift cards in partnership with Walmart for each child.

Registration for the event is filled, according to the church website at tpwc.church, but volunteers can still sign up on the site.

“We’ve had to, I guess, get a little more innovative in the ministry. You’ve got to use caution and wisdom with the current pandemic we find ourselves facing,” Mitchell said. “It can’t be as hands-on as before, but we’re trying to make the best of the times we’re in.”

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