Next Level Church’s “blessing” to Pembroke hasn’t arrived yet

  • Next Level Church's greater Concord location at 79 Sheep Davis Rd. in Pembroke is shown on Feb. 14, 2018. Lola Duffort—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Friday, February 16, 2018

The relationship between Next Level Church and the town of Pembroke began on shaky ground, so the fast-growing operation in the mega-church model offered an olive branch.

Church leaders said they would give the town an annual “blessing” around Christmas time – similar to what the tax bill would have been if it weren’t tax-exempt – to allay concerns that the town lost crucial revenue when the church moved into its small commercial district.

“We just want them to know, and the people to know, really, that we’re there to be a blessing,” Pastor Daniel King told the Monitor in February of 2016.

Some people in town wondered if that “blessing” got lost in the mail. 

“We haven’t heard anything since the article,” said Pembroke town administrator David Jodoin.

Even though the church isn’t required to so, King said the church still planned plan on sending the town a check –  it just made more sense to send the monetary offering in with its tax exemption form, due April 15, instead of Christmas.

The building was worth $779,000 when the church purchased it, according to Jodoin. At this year’s tax-rate, a business at that location would have paid $23,183 in taxes.

King said the church’s donation probably wouldn’t be as high as $23,000, but he declined to give a ball-park of what it could be since he hadn’t discussed it with the church’s board.

“We haven’t even had that conversation,” he said.

And he said the gesture was meant to be a positive one –  underscoring that the church had chosen to do “something it doesn’t have to do.”

The church’s promise came after a tense standoff with the town.

In 2015, Pembroke’s zoning board had denied the church a variance to move into a commercial district that prohibited churches. The town had invested heavily in the area in hopes of attracting businesses, and officials said they didn’t want a tax-exempt entity taking over the space. But under threat of a lawsuit, they reversed course, voting 3-2 to allow NLC to move in. 

Launched in 2008, Next Level Church has rapidly expanded. It now boasts 11 locations across 4 states and Quebec. There are six locations in New Hampshire alone – including in Peterborough, Stratham, Conway, Keene and Somersworth.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)