New congregation launching service under the starry sky

Worship leader Dustin Harper, left, and Pastor Mason Ballard's Resurrection Church will begin meeting in the Clay Center planetarium on April 6. Charleston Daily Mail/Craig Cunningham 03/26/14

Charleston’s newest congregation doesn’t have a chapel or pews, but does boast a pretty good view of the night sky.

Resurrection Church will hold its first service this Sunday at 11 a.m. in the Clay Center’s ElectricSky Theater planetarium, with upbeat music and a Bible-based gospel message.

The timing of the service was strategically planned to coincide with the Easter season, said Pastor Mason Ballard.

“Resurrection Church is our name and we want to celebrate resurrection with our city,” he said. “I have a burden for the city.”

A team of about 20 people has been meeting for several months in preparation for the official launching of the church, Ballard said.

“We are a mix,” he said of the congregation. “The body of Christ is multi-generational. We’ve got people age 15 to 75. We believe in diversity. We’ve got everyone from young professionals to older folks.”

Ballard, 21, graduated in 2011 from Poca High School where he was class valedictorian.

For a while he took classes at Davidson College in North Carolina with thoughts of going into politics. While in a class called Prophetic Christianity in America, discussion swirled around faith and politics. He realized then that his true calling was ministry.

“I knew my plan was too small and God’s plan was possible,” he said.

He is now a senior at the University of Charleston majoring in English and has plans to pursue a master’s of divinity through Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He said God placed it on his heart to launch a new church in the city of Charleston.

Counting the odds that are against the endeavor, he noted that he is young and not ordained. Also, the congregation has no facility of its own. However, the pastor and the core team are stepping out on faith.

Statistics show that launching a new church is the best way to draw people to services, he said.

He describes Resurrection Church with enthusiasm.

“We are committed to proclaiming the gospel and making disciples for King Jesus who commissioned us to make disciples of all nations,” he said. “We are not program heavy. We see our mission field as Charleston.”

Word of the new congregation has been spread through posters, social media, and even knocking on doors.

Dustin Harper, 23, who serves as worship leader, said the door-to-door campaign has been successful.

“With our door-to-door ministry, out of 12 only two don’t accept us,” he said.

As they traveled about the city, they handed out “blessing bags” with food, water, and hygiene supplies.

Harper studied exercise physiology at Marshall University, completed a physical therapy assistant program through Mountwest Community & Technical College, and is board certified. He is now seeking a job while funneling his energy into the new church.

“I guess God led me here,” he said.

He describes the atmosphere as joyful with high energy music. Preaching is Biblically based and gospel centered.

Ballard hopes everyone who visits Resurrection Church feels warmly welcomed.

Derek Vance, 24, is a graduate of Poca High. After attending Brown University in Rhode Island, he returned to the area in 2012 and now works with a nonprofit on fundraising for the Clay Center. He feels drawn to the new church and its goal of sharing the gospel.

“We’re all about God’s glory,” Ballard said. “Jesus is king.”

Services in the Clay Center Planetarium each Sunday run from 11 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Doors open 10:30 a.m.

For more information go to, email or call 304-550-4831.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.

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