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A local church is not only providing some free entertainment in Statesville but also challenging others to do the same.

With the recent closing of Statesville’s lone movie theater, Christ Church decided to step in and fill the entertainment void. Statesville Movie Night takes place from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday at the church, which is located at 2172 Wilkesboro Highway

The first 200 get free popcorn and a drink as well. Bringing your own candy is openly encouraged, a contradiction to traditional movie theater events.

Why a movie night? When the theater closed, pastor Chip McGee saw a void — one he and his church decided to step in and fill.

“It was everywhere, a lot of disappointment about losing the theater in Statesville and just kind of discouragement about not having much to do,” McGee said.

“As a pastor that wants to serve the city that we live in, and a church that wants to serve the city we live in, we just thought, why not? Why not lean in and kind of fill the void a little bit. Take one step toward offering something for families.”

So reacting quickly, he and his church put together the movie night.

“So there is a show time in Statesville on Friday night,” he said.

People can arrive beginning at 6 p.m., with the movie starting at 6:30 p.m. The movie is John Cena’s “Playing with Fire.”

Popcorn and drinks were donated so that the first 200 receive that for free as well.

It’s not the first time that Christ Church has worked to benefit the community, or even the first time to show movies for the community. Last summer the church showed two movies on its patio and lawn. McGee said they had snow cones and that they plan to do that again this summer.

For now, though, he’s concentrating on challenging other groups in Statesville to also step in and fill the void and to keep movies showing on weekends in the city.

“The idea is … there’s venues in Statesville, so why not invite other people to lean in and provide movie opportunities as well,” he said.

“(We) wanted to issue a Statesville movie challenge and see if there’s any (groups) — the parks department or business or other churches — that have a venue and want to have a showing and put it out there.

“We wanted to offer a movie on Friday but the hope is to keep it going, that other organizations will step forward and offer a show time as well.”

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