Megachurch breaks ground on Harnett County site

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- One of the region's largest churches has coupled with one of the nation's most prominent developers to expand a Fayetteville church into Harnett County. The move marks the initial development of an area expected to experience continued, explosive commercial and residential growth.

On Wednesday, Manna Church and developer David Levinson broke ground on a $1.6 million church site along Ray and Overhills Roads. Levinson is best known for developing the Anderson Creek Golf Club communities and their extensions. The former is regarded as one of the top 50 planned communities in the country.

"This is a landmark moment," said Manna's senior pastor, Michael Fletcher. "This is the fulfillment of a lot of prayer."

Manna, which boasts five church sites in the Sandhills and nearly 10,000 members, has held its North site services in Overhills High School since 2011. The school board approved the move four times, but leaders said they needed a permanent place of worship in Harnett County vs. their current "mobile church" set-up.

At the same time, Levinson had saved a portion of his 59-acres for a place of worship.

"Auto-parts stores had tried to buy it," Levinson said. "We said, 'No. We're waiting for a church,' and then Manna came. For us it was like Manna from Heaven. It was a perfect fit."

Manna leaders met with Levinson in his home last spring, and the developer-guru sold the church a portion of the land and donated expansion property as well as the planned building. Levinson said once the leaders promised a place of non-denominational worship that supported the State of Israel, he was in.

The church is cornered in an area where Highway 210 will connect to four-lane roads. Talks of a Harris Teeter, upscale dining and shopping, a movie theater and housing that mirrors Anderson Creek Club are quickly turning into concrete plans.

Levinson said he envisions a "commercial and institutional center of the entire region" in the Overhills area.

Meanwhile, Manna continues major expansions in places with large military populations, including Fort Carson, Colo., Hawaii and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Manna's Harnett County site is set for a 2016 completion.

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