EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

February 27, 2014

Church grows at Haverhill High

School auditorium doubles as house of worship

HAVERHILL — What do a movie theater in Lawrence and the Haverhill High School auditorium have in common?

They both offer great entertainment when a popular movie is showing and the annual class play takes over the stage at the high school.

But there’s more.

And it might come as a surprise to some people.

Both places are home to worship services run by a local church which draws so many people that it is adding services at Haverhill High.

Granite United Church has been holding a Sunday worship service in the Haverhill High auditorium for the past two years. The church is preparing to add a second service at the school.

“When we opened our campus in Haverhill, our average attendance was 64 members who came with us to launch the campus,” said Granite United Pastor John Croteau, a Lawrence native who now lives in the Salem, N.H., area. “Since then, we’ve grown to a weekly average of over 200 members.”

Members of Granite United were in Haverhill last weekend handing out fliers at shopping plazas and dropping them off at various businesses they were trying to connect with.

School officials said there is nothing wrong with renting space to a church group, as long as it doesn’t interfere any school programs. The officials said that in this case, the use of the auditorium to hold services was reviewed for its legality.

“It’s working out fine,” said Superintendent James Scully. “They are very nice people to work with and they treat the building with respect.”

Granite United is a Baptist church based at 1 Sandhill Road, Salem, N.H. It has been around for about 20 years and is led by head pastor Anthony Milas.

Croteau, 47, and his wife, Tina, oversee the Haverhill campus. Every campus has its own pastor, in addition to Milas.

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