The already developing landscape of Hudson Oaks changed even further with the addition of New River Fellowship’s new building, more physical evidence of the church’s presence and growth.
Fifteen years ago, the church began when three churches came together to start it, leading to its name as those churches represented streams that came together to form a river.
At its beginning, before getting its current property, the church met at Tison Middle School in trailers before the first building was constructed. This year, they celebrated the building’s 10th anniversary.
Senior Pastor Scott Crenshaw joined the church five years ago when the congregation had about 500 members. That number has since increased to more than 2,000, with members coming from Aledo, Weatherford, Lipan and even Mineral Wells.
That increase led to the addition of the new sanctuary – three times larger than the previous building – which the church used for the first time Dec. 1.
The church still holds three services each Sunday, but the new building gives them more space and lets them use the other building for the children and youth.
“I think people are drawn to a church that’s not just growing numerically but that is growing and making an impact on the community,” Crenshaw said.
That goal of impacting the area is how they make sure their actions during the week match the actions seen or words heard in church.
“We don’t want to just go through the motions,” Crenshaw says.
Over the last year, the church gave away seven vehicles to people in need in the area, single mothers and a veteran. They also rebuilt a home for a family and occasionally offer free oil changes.
They also began to host the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce.
“We believe in our community,” Crenshaw said. “The city of Hudson Oaks has been wonderful.
“It’s been wonderful to have a city and the leadership of the city that is about growth and they want to do it right.”
New River has also supported already-existing organizations in the community such as Grace House, Safe Harbor and Center of Hope. They also support others internationally in places including Africa, Honduras, Guatemala and Indonesia.
Over the years, the demographics of their church have changed. At first, Crenshaw said the majority of members were young families, but now older members are joining as well.
Because of the nearby Weatherford College, the church does focus on providing a place for those students, but Crenshaw said they have a diverse audience, from senior adults to college students, tattoo artists to cowboys.
Currently there are also about 175 members that drive in from Mineral Wells each week. Because of that, Crenshaw said they are looking for a place where they can plant an extension of the church in that area.
In May, New River opened its first extension when another church in Benbrook decided to provide the building as well as congregation.
Crenshaw says they hope to one day have six campuses. Each campus would have their own pastors but the same video of the senior pastor’s preaching would be viewed at each campus.
Crenshaw said that is already being done for the Benbrook extension and lets the leaders spend more time focusing on the congregation than on preparing a sermon.
With the new building and the plans for new campuses in mind, Crenshaw says the church is ready to look toward the next chapter for the church.
“This is us just getting started,” Crenshaw says.