By Mikala McCurry
Modern entrepreneur and Pastor Dr. Brian Pleasant has officially transitioned iCrave Fellowship Church to the next level with a new location. Pastor Pleasant’s hope with this transition is to unify the community and promote diversity and inclusion within the business and ministry communities.
The new iCrave building originally housed Capitol Heights United Methodist Church from 1929 until 2018. It was a predominately white church with an African pastor. Three years ago as they were seeing declines in church attendance, they called Pastor Pleasant to help them with the transition of the church.
“I came in to consult with them and to help them cast a vision for the church. Ultimately, they couldn’t respond fast enough to try to save the church, so they ended up shutting down,” Pleasant said. “Three years later, the Lord said ‘Go pursue that building.’ I called about it and was able to purchase the building this year. It had been sitting idle for two and a half years and now, here we are.”
For Pastor Pleasant, the vision for the iCrave ministry has always been community impact.
“I don’t think you can become the city or the state’s church until you become the community’s church,” he said. “I just want to really serve the 12 mile radius around us as Jesus did with Jerusalem. My heart at this point is to learn the Capital Heights area and bring an impact to the community.”
In addition to regular Sunday service, the ministry’s mental health clinic, iCrave Life Center, will be also housed in the new building. With there being a major stigma with mental health services in the community, Pastor Pleasant aims to make mental health “cool”.
“We have a life coach on staff and are planning to hire a psychiatrist to help us with that program. Dr. Scott Holmes will also be helping us with grief counseling. We’ll be doing small group sessions, individual counseling, and pastoral counseling sessions with our on-staff pastors,” Pastor Pleasant said.
The iCrave Life Center will also host ASVAB, GED, and vocational classes as well as AA and NA support groups.
While the iCrave Fellowship Church membership is not a huge congregation, they strive to make a huge impact by providing resources and refuge to the community largely through outreach and partnerships.
“I’ve learned that a lot of the people around the community are impact makers, so I’m glad to shake hands and connect with those people every day,” he said. “Partnerships are going to be very key, and I’m hoping those partnerships can grow organically where we are now.”
As an entrepreneur, Pastor Pleasant also aims to provide space for small businesses, whether it be office space, event space, etc. He also plans to start a Crave Market event in the Spring at the new location on the first and third Saturdays. This event will include young entrepreneurs and vendors who can set up booths to market their products. The events will include food, fellowship, and activities for children.
In the near future, iCrave is planning some major expansion of its outreach and educational efforts at both the new location in Capitol Heights and the original location on Lower Wetumpka Road.
“We’re opening a daycare center, called Extraordinary Leaders Academy, that can host up to 275 kids by August of next year and a microschool to serve kindergarten – 4th grade. This will be a STEAM school–science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. I was in music education, so we have a big emphasis on the arts.
“I still have the building on Lower Wetumpka Road, which will transition into our Impact Center where all of our outreach and evangelism occurs. We’re opening a thrift store in that building and continuing other outreach initiatives for that community, such as the community garden initiative,” Pastor Pleasant said.
The ministry is also planning major expansion of its food program, which recently served nearly 200 families for Thanksgiving as the first food giveaway at the new location. Currently, iCrave’s food program serves approximately 35,000 children a month, with ages ranging from 2 to 18. The program also includes a community garden facilitated at the original church location. The ministry is looking to expand that program to a soup kitchen model in the Capital Heights community to add to the monthly food giveaways, which will still occur at the previous site on Lower Wetumpka Road.
“We’re really trying to be a whole-listic ministry, to deal with the whole person. We want to provide a safe place to connect,” Pastor Pleasant said. “Sometimes people don’t feel safe, even at church. But we provide a safe, non-judgemental space for all people to worship and have a good time.”
iCrave had its first official service in the new location in December. Service now starts at 11AM, transitioning from its previous time of 1:30PM. Pastor Pleasant also pastors an iCrave location in Columbus, GA with a start time of 9AM.
To learn more about iCrave Fellowship Church, visit icraveministries.com.
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