Carey Madding grew up in what she called a traditional church.
“And we had family who had given up on church,” Madding said. “We just wanted to reach people that were not interested in church, who had no desire to go to church.”
Madding and her husband, Mike Madding, can now say they have worked toward that goal for two decades, with their church, The Cove Church, celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.
Mike Madding is founding and senior pastor for The Cove Church and, in a news release about the milestone anniversary, he said, “The Cove has become a family and a home to many people.”
Carey Madding remembers the church’s first service in November 1998, which attracted between 170 and 190 people.
“But the second week it dropped to half because some people said, ‘This is not for me,’” she said.
That’s because The Cove has a different philosophy from many churches.
“We care more about people and reaching people than we care about specific traditions or clothing or a method,” Carey Madding said. “It’s just about really loving people passionately where they are and just walking with them. It’s just a climate of acceptance.”
The Cove has campuses in Mooresville, Denver, Statesville and Mt. Ulla, with Mike Madding based in Mooresville and campus pastors based at each of the other churches.
Carey Madding said that, when the church started to outgrow its first facility, church leadership decided to open different campus locations rather than expand their original building.
“And we kind of like that – not getting a bigger building but just having more campuses.”
The church now serves about 5,000 people in total on a regular Sunday, with attendance swelling to nearly 10,000 for Christmas and Easter.
Carey Madding said it is “really surprising” to see how much the church has grown compared to what she remembers from its first several weeks in 1998.
“It’s not anything else except God wanted there to be this kind of church here at that time,” she said. “And we’re glad we got to be part of that, from the start.”