Heights Community Church launched in October 2014 as a result of vision and a commitment by the congregation to have a more engaging future. Previously, the congregation was known as Virginia Heights Baptist Church.
As with many established, mainline churches, Virginia Heights Baptist Church had been in numerical decline for sixty years having peaked in 1962. The current pastor, Nelson Harris, prayerfully sought to lead the congregation in a new direction with worship and ministries that would be more relevant and meaningful to current and future generations. Our pastor presented a vision for the church in March 2014 that included bold changes in our worship that involved moving to two different worship experiences (“contemporary” at 10:30am and “traditional” at 8:45am), casual dress, worship ensembles to lead music accompanied by an instrumental ensemble, small groups, ministries “beyond the walls” of the church, and much more. That spring, the congregation after much prayer and discussion voted overwhelmingly to adopt Pastor Harris’ vision and began a six-month transition process culminating in the launch of Heights Community Church that fall. The new name reflected the church’s change, its broader reach, and its desire to remove barriers to any who wish to come and encounter God’s presence in worship and service.
Since our launch, our church has grown numerically, spiritually and in service. Our growth is the most we have had in a half-century, and we view that as an affirmation of our desire to truly be good stewards of Christ’s church and embarking upon a new chapter for God’s glory and our congregation’s future.
Heights Community Church still maintains its Baptist beliefs and practices and its affiliations (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist General Association of Virginia), but is open and welcoming to those from a variety of Christian backgrounds and inviting to those who may be experiencing a Christian community for the first time.
Our pastor has been with us since 1999, and he and the ministerial staff are committed to leading a congregation that has a heart for worship, service to the community, and sharing God’s love as embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While contemporary and casual, Heights Community Church is a different kind of contemporary congregation. We worship in a historic sanctuary, occasionally use hymns within the blend of the best praise and worship music, have a worship ensemble that uses both electric and acoustic instruments, is multi-generational, and invite men and women to share equally in their talents and gifts for worship and congregational leadership.
Where can I park?
Our parking lot is behind the church and Co-Op building. Overflow parking is available at Virginia Heights Elementary School across Memorial Avenue.
How do I enter the church?
You may enter the church through the back entrance, closest to the parking lot or through the main doors to the sanctuary on Memorial Avenue. If you enter from the rear of the church, there is a covered portico that allows entrance through the double French Doors. This will lead you into our Welcome Center.
Nelson Harris, a native of Roanoke, VA , has been the pastor of Heights Community Church since 1999, having previously served two other churches as minister. Interestingly, HCC is the church where he grew up and now considers it a privilege to be “back home” serving a congregation that has meant so much to him in his life.
A graduate of Patrick Henry High School, Nelson attended Radford University where he graduated with a degree in Political Science (B.A., cum laude). He then attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC and graduated in December of 1989 (M. Div.). He also has done post-graduate study at Princeton Theological Seminary and with Harvard University.
In addition to his pastoral duties, he is an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Western Community College where he teaches in the areas of religion and philosophy . He is also a published author, having written for several religious publications (Growing Churches, The Student, Living with Teenagers, The Deacon, The Religious Herald, Church Administration)and now is the author of nine books on the region’s history (Roanoke in Vintage Postcards, Virginia Tech, Roanoke: Then & Now, to name a few) . His various essays have been aired on public radio, WVTF.
Melia Garber holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from West University of Timisoara, Romania.
A native of Romania, Mrs. Garber has won numerous piano competitions, including first prize at the prestigious International Piano Competition in San-Bartholomeo, Italy. She also won MTNA competitions in piano at the state and regional levels and won the Concerto Competition while at the University of Tennessee playing the Liszt Piano Concerto in E-flat Major. Mrs. Garber has performed concertos by Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Grieg with the Philharmonic Orchestra of “Banatul” Timisoara, Romania. She also premiered the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Ryan Garber in 2005 with the Salem Choral Society. She has been the choir director, pianist and organist at Heights Community Church since 2009, and the accompanist for The Chorus of the Blue Ridge. She has been a lecturer in Piano at Hollins University since 2001.
Melia has enjoyed church music all of her life and believes music deeply contributes to the worship experience ad spiritual growth of a congregation. Melia leads a diverse music ministry at Heights Community Church, consisting of a praise choir, praise ensemble, ladies quartet, and youth and children’s groups. She regularly involves special soloists and guest instrumentalists as a part of the church’s overall music program.
Jennifer Tomlin grew up in Grundy, VA, and has lived in the area since 1997. A graduate of Radford University (cum laude, 1990), she has been a stay–at–home mom since the birth of her son.
Jennifer is married to Todd, and they have a son, Philip. Jennifer previously worked in the healthcare industry and in administration for public schools. She is also an active school volunteer! Jennifer loves working with the people here at HCC.