New Satellite Campus at Rutherford High School

We are so very excited about a wonderful opportunity at Northstar Church, the opening of the Callaway/East Bay campus.  We know that change can sometimes be confusing and you probably have questions. In an effort to provide as much information as possible, we’ve put together some FAQs to answer many of the most common questions. However, we know that there may still be other questions, which we did not address, and we would love to hear from you if you have something you’d like to know. Thank you for sharing this exciting opportunity with us.


For a while now, the God has placed it upon our hearts to grow Northstar and thus His kingdom. We believe that this goal cannot be realized by just building bigger facilities here in our Panama City location, but by reaching out into our neighboring communities to plant satellite campuses.  There are several reasons for that: First, proximity: A satellite model puts Northstar right in the midst of people’s communities and increases the likelihood for new visitors from those communities who wouldn’t travel to the Panama City location. People like to go to church near their home. This enables them to experience the ministry of Northstar – our values, vision and style – minutes from their home. Second, engagement: More locations mean more opportunities for ministry, enabling more people to engage and utilize their spiritual gifts. And third, evangelism: Moving into other communities allows us to spread the gospel to increasingly larger areas. Simply put, we can reach more people if we go to where they are.

Throughout this process, we’ve looked at different options and locations, sought the guidance of other pastors and waited on God to open the right doors at the right time. We believe this is that time.

The Callaway campus will be located at Rutherford High School Auditorium. The campus provides a great location just off 15th Street Road and on the corner of 11th Street and School Avenue. This is a solid location because it is easily accessible to approximately the tens of thousands of people in Callaway, Springfield, Parker, and the surrounding areas.


Didn’t we just eliminate a worship service? 

Does that not suggest we have room available? Why do we need to expand?  Northstar has grown from approximately 450 people in meeting in Merritt Brown Middle School 4 years ago to its current weekly attendance of nearly 2,000. Yes, we added the fifth service in order to accommodate the projected growth going forward and to allow each service to grow at a consistent rate.  In 2011, we experienced our first attendance plateaued in 5 years and at the same time added additional capacity with the theater and making the worship experience available online. So, for now, there is still space in our sanctuary. While we could have chosen to maintain 5 services, we realized the things keeping people from connecting to our congregation ranged from capacity and space issues in areas such as our children’s and student ministries and severely under estimated parking issues involving our 15 minute service turn around times. Due to the willingness of our volunteers to park across 23rd Street and Hwy 390 and our staff opening their offices to be used for pre-school space since January our church has had a the highest YTD attendance ever!! And yes, that is with one less service time. The story doesn’t stop here, truth be told we have and still currently turn people away every Sunday do to not having parking spaces at our mid-morning service times. Nevertheless vision issues, not capacity issues, drive the Callaway decision. We are currently working on plans to address the things standing in the way of people trying to find and follow Jesus on our Panama City campus and a part of that is people in our church congregation going to be a part of our first satellite plant in Callaway.

Don’t we have enough work to do in Panama City? 

Of course, there is always more work to do in our immediate region. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t begin a satellite. First, we are a church with a mission that extends beyond Panama City. We are working to reach Panama City with the good news of Jesus Christ. But we also believe God wants us to think regionally and internationally, not just locally. Developing multiple campuses to operate in other areas is a natural outgrowth of our mission.

What is a Satellite Church? 

A satellite church is one church meeting in multiple locations but sharing a common vision, budget, leadership and board. Satellite churches share the same name and have the same core ministries. Think of Chick-fil-A. Whenever you see a Chick-fil-A sign you know you will find the same core menu and quality of service. Because of the positive association we have with one Chick-fil-A, we are comfortable stepping into another.

Is Callaway/East Bay a satellite or a “church plant?”

Callaway/East Bay is a satellite. The purpose of Callaway is to carry out the mission of Northstar and will mirror Northstar in all its programs, style and culture.  But there will be some unique ministry opportunities that will make Callaway seem more like a church plant.  However, no matter how many satellites we open we will be “one church, multiple locations,” meaning that each new campus carries out the mission, vision and values of Northstar.  That doesn’t mean Northstar is not just as committed to helping plant other churches. We will still continue to fund and support church planters in our city, as well as all over the world.

How did this come about?

The staff has been praying about this for about two years time. As many of you know we have been close to pulling the trigger a couple of times before, but God said stop. So even as statistics and data revealed more of our visitors are coming from a distance to our worship service, as a scan of our database showed the 1000 families that attend our congregation currently live there, as building opportunities popped up, and as letters and emails from people expressing their overwhelming joy to see a campus of Northstar be planted in their community, we waited. It was just a few months ago we felt the final release to fully pursue this opportunity and God has paved the way for such a time as this: from a school outfitted with out technological needs, to a huge influx of new Air Force base personnel, to a community desiring hope, to a church ready to step up to the challenge and impact this community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why call it the Callaway campus when Rutherford High School is located in Springfield city limits?

As many of you know we have been attempting to plant in the City of Callaway due to the population concentrations, commercial districts, and the natural draw that many of those businesses bring from the surrounding areas. Our purpose has never been to be a church of only people who live in the City of Callaway, but of Parker, Springfield, Mexico Beach, Callaway, Tyndall, and Unincorporated Bay County. Completely unplanned, the community and schools of Springfield ended being the best match and the most supportive to our involvement in the area. A fact that our church is tremendously grateful for. We have no plans to change from Rutherford as our home in the near future. However, to be respectful of the communities we are serving and eliminate confusion, Callaway will only be used as an internal way to communicate the campus due to it’s centrality to the area we are trying to reach and its familiarity with our congregation. We would like to work this out of our verbage and eventually be know as the Northstar – East Bay Campus All of our external marketing efforts (signage, invite cards, mailers, etc) for the campus will simply read as Northstar Church at Rutherford High School or Northstar -East Bay.

Who will the Campus Pastor be?

Ray Woodard will be the Campus Pastor at the Callaway/East Bay location and will be responsible for day-to-day ministry, counseling, leadership development, etc. Most of us have been familiar with Ray as he has served on staff as one of our Student pastors for the last 3 years. Ray has a huge heart to help people find and follow Jesus. Ray understands our values and our passion for developing believers and reaching the lost. We are confident in Ray and we are very excited to watch him move into this new season of ministry. Also a campus pastor is not the only staff member for the campus. The campus will be staffed with a Worship Leader from day one and eventually a Children’s director, Student pastor, small groups, etc as the campus grows.

Ray’s current duties as a student pastor will be absorbed by Student Ministries Director, Destree Brown and Student Worship Leader, Lance Brackett.

Will this impact the other current pastors at Northstar?

Yes. A wise person once likened launching a second campus to going from one kid to two kids…the work to be done is exponential! To help our staff and church adjust, Josh Street, our current Media and Technologies Pastor, will be moving to leading Campus Operations and Logistics. This will enable our leadership team to still keep a central focus on bettering the quality of our ministries while allowing us to expand our reach beyond our current location and into future locations.

Most of Josh’s current duties as Media and Technologies Pastor are being absorb by Media and Production Director – Robbie Hill, Technical Director – Justin Marking, Communications Director – Sonya Henderson, and Arts Pastor – Lee Baker

Who will the Director of Family Ministries/Children’s Ministry be?

For the immediate future, Becky Culpepper will serve dual roles as our Family Ministries director at the Panama City and Callaway/East Bay locations. This will be a tremendous help through the “learning phase” of the campus. Becky will be responsible with making sure the Children’s and Family Ministries are operating at the same quality between campuses.

Will student ministry be available at the Callaway/East Bay campus?

 Through the launch phase, all of student ministry will be run through the Panama City Campus. Wednesday night small groups will continue as normal and will be open for all Callaway/East Bay students to attend. There will be some adjustments to the middle school service schedule to allow an opportunity for Callaway/East Bay Campus students to participate. We encourage all students attending the Callaway campus to get involved serving or attend the service with their family. Our goal is, however to make student ministry available as soon as possible on every campus. We feel their is a strong potential due to our relationship and proximity to schools at Rutherford that student ministry has the potential to be even more effective in our Callaway/East Bay location.

Will the style of ministry be the same?

Northstar is one church, with one pastoral staff, one leadership team, one vision and one style of ministry. We will duplicate all of that in our Callaway/East Bay location. We’re simply one church in multiple locations.

How will the preaching/teaching be handled?

Callaway/East Bay  will have the same teaching/message series beginning with the “Giants” series that starts on Easter Sunday.  Messages will be delivered via HD video and simulcast live. Through our experience and others moving in similar ventures, delivering the teaching portion of the message via video in no way sacrifices the atmosphere for worship and community. Do to the superior viewing angles of a screen many find it actually enhances their worship experience. As long as the video technique is meaningful and helpful in our mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, we will continue to use video messages for preaching and a local ministry staff for ministry. If we determine another technique is more relevant and helpful in accomplishing our mission, we will adopt it. On a side note, Pastor Marty will be very much involved on a personal and in-person level with every campus.

What about Northstar Groups at Callaway?

For now, we will use our Groups team at Panama City to help connect Callaway/East Bay attendees into groups. This means when you sign up for a Northstar Group, you can choose to be a part of any group on any campus. This will provide you with opportunities to experience a group close to where you live, work, or play.

Do I need to commit to attend either the Panama City or Callaway/East Bay location on Sundays?

Yes, it is important that you choose a campus and commit to attending there. By committing to one campus, you can truly get involved in and feel a part of what is happening in that community. You can also serve strategically in one of that campus’ environments. Moving from place to place also makes it more difficult for people to stay connected with you. It’s easy to just think so-and-so must being going to a different campus or service time, but in reality they are at home wondering why no one has called them. Staying committed and connected to a single campus is the only way to prevent this. It benefits you and the campus to which you commit if you choose one campus to attend.

How much will this cost?

Our research puts a price tag between $150,000 to $250,000. Building onto existing facilities to accommodate growth creates a heavy financial burden. By using a satellite model, we are able to quickly launch a church within a community with a low initial cash outlay, giving the location time to grow in order to support itself. Using existing facilities is always cheaper than building something new. Most satellite campuses are supporting for themselves within a year or two of opening because of the reduced cost of startup.  Although the cost is dramatically less than building a facility, the financial generosity of our church is absolutely necessary to see this campus grow and flourish.

How will we refer to our current location?

The current Northstar Church location will continue to be called Northstar or Northstar Church Panama City – operating with a central hub for all future satellite campuses, starting with Callaway/East Bay. We will refer externally to the Callaway/East Bay campus as simply Northstar or Northstar Church – East Bay. We are one church with many locations.

If I live in the Callaway/East Bay area, how soon can I start attending at the Rutherford Campus? 

Easter Sunday, April 8th, will be our first service. We will be in once-a-month services (on the 2nd Sunday of every month) until August. We will be sharing details of the transition, open up leadership and volunteer opportunities, and announce service times to the general church and interested families very soon.

Will we be further reducing our services at the Panama City campus?

As of right now, there are no plans to reduce the number of services at the main campus.

If you have additional questions, submit them to and we will answer them as soon as possible.