Pastor Timothy Adams of New Hope Fellowship in Concord had an epiphany the last time he flew.
"I was at the Memphis airport making a connecting flight down to Houston for a conference" said Adams. "I was standing on one of those moving sidewalks and I suddenly realized that this is exactly what we needed at our church."
Adams' realization is rooted in a common problem being faced by a number of large evangelical protestant churches in America. Congregations, in some cases, have become so numerous, and church buildings so large that some people are not able to make it to the front of the church during the altar call immediately following the sermon.
"The altar call is very important" said Adams. "If someone doesn't make it down the aisle one week, they've got to wait a whole other week before they can get saved. Our building is very large, and on average we have about 6,000 people in Sunday morning worship. A walk from the very back of the church can take up to seven or eight minutes. We're usually long done with the invitational hymn by then."
So when Adams stood on the moving sidewalk at the Memphis airport he found the solution to his church's problems - moving aisles.
"What we plan to do is put these moving sidewalks right in our aisles at church" he stated. "At the end of the service the ushers will turn them on, that way people at the very back of the church can make it down to the front in time before the music ends, that is, if they walk on the moving sidewalk while it's running. It basically moves a person at running speed he or she having to actually run."
The project, though, is not cheap. The church estimates that the cost of the moving aisles will be around $1.1 million dollars.
"We know this is going to be a huge investment for us" stated Adams. "But we're talking about people's souls here. You can't put a price on someone's soul. We've already started a campaign to raise money for these aisles, and so far the response has been very good. But each Sunday we delay we risk another poor soul who just can't make it down in time."