3:16 Covenant Church fills a void

Williamsport’s 3:16 Covenant Church is takin’ it to the streets.

The church, which celebrates it’s one-year anniversary in July, was built on the principle of reaching out into the community.

Led by Pastor Salvatore Minella and worship Pastor Amy Way, the church came together to meet a need the two didn’t feel was being fulfilled.

“We come from different backgrounds of churches. We’ve been in different denominational churches. And we felt like in the community there was a missing piece to church and that was really not only meeting the needs of people inside the church, but being out in the streets and meeting people where they’re at,” Minella said.

“Our church focus is more outside than it is inside. We want to help the community, we want to change the community, we want to show the love of Christ in the community. And we believe that is very important in changing a generation for God’s glory, and that’s what we want to do.”

When Minella and Way joined with four others to found the church, they did have one slight setback: no house of worship to make their church home.

On Sunday mornings, the group, which has since expanded to about 40 regular attendees with 12 to 15 kids participating in children’s ministry, meets at the Holiday Inn, 100 Pine St.

That means every Sunday morning, volunteers from the church unload a trailer full of the church’s equipment to set up in the hotel. People on the worship team are responsible for keeping and bringing their own instruments.

The lack of a building hasn’t stopped 3:16 from carrying on like any other church. In March, Minella performed baptisms by setting up a kiddie pool and pouring water over people’s heads.

The current location also has allowed the church to reach out to some unlikely parishioners.

Hotel guests will stop by and check out the services. Minella shared that recently the church reached a couple from Maryland. After the service, the two told Minella that the message had moved them and confirmed a calling they felt to start a ministry for the elderly.

Still, the goal is to create a physical home for the congregation.

“Our goal, we take a percentage right now of all the tithes we get, and we put it towards a building fund for growth, so we’re already planning for the future,” Minella said.

The church hopes to buy a plot of land and build a facility that meets its needs and allows for expansion. Minella shared that they want to reach as many people as possible, using the Internet to broadcast videos of his sermons via YouTube. One day he hopes the church will grow enough that it can start sister churches.

Next Saturday, the church is trying to expand its reach to the younger crowd through a project called 3:16 Underground. The Refuge Band from Altoona is coming to lead worship for the teens. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the event will start at 7.

Ultimately, they just want everyone to know they are welcome.

“So many people have this idea that they need to come to church and they need to be totally perfect, and everything has to be right in their life,” Way said. “They put off coming to church because, ‘Oh, I have this problem going on … I’m just a mess, I can’t go to church.’ And I’m just like ‘We all have problems, we’re not perfect. Come as you are, and we accept you, no matter what.’ “

To celebrate its one-year anniversary, the church is looking at doing an outside service or hosting a block party, but no definitive plans have yet been made.

The 3:16 Covenant Church meets at 10 a.m. on Sunday. More information can be found on its website at