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April 10. 2013 5:49PM

Berwick, Maine, pastor takes aim at hoop challenge for a new Somersworth church

BERWICK, Maine - Joshua Gagnon, lead pastor of Next Level Church, will shoot free throws for 24 hours this weekend in a Hoops for the Dream challenge to help build a Somersworth, N.H., church.

The event will be held at Noble High School from 6 p.m Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday.

In his first one-hour practice, Gagnon made 862 free throws in one hour, a pace that would result in shattering the Guinness world record if he can sustain it for 24 hours.

People and organizations are asked to pledge any amount of money (starting at just 1 cent) for every shot he makes in 24 hours.

If Gagnon makes 10,000 shots, a pledge of 1 cent would result in a donation of $100 or a pledge of $1 would mean a donation of $10,000.

The goal is to raise $250,000 to equip and furnish the new Next Level Church facility currently under construction at 436 Route 108 in Somersworth.

In just five years, Next Level Church has grown from 12 people in one town to four locations in three states with more than 2,000 people calling NLC their church.

Founders believe the church was sent for those who need help and encouragement in their brokenness, not just those who have life figured out.

In the new building, thousands of adults, families and children who are in need of a place of hope, love, and encouragement will find help.

The church is working with dozens of local community partners such as Salvation Army, End 68 Hours of Hunger, and House of Hope.

The adjacent property, which is under contract, will become the future home of a community center, where church members can give single moms a fresh start through housing assistance, counseling and job training.

Gagnon, who has played basketball competitively at every level throughout his life, is already practicing for the event.

The challenge will be broadcast live online through the website www.hoopsforthedream.com so anyone can watch all day long, and the whole event will be open to the public if people want to come along to the high school to cheer for Gagnon.

There will be free activities for anyone who wants to participate, from kids events to a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

Gagnon said, "I believe the church exists to bring hope to our communities and to be encouragement, and if shooting free throws can help us do that, I will shoot free throws for days on end."

Construction of the new building is scheduled for completion in April, 2013.

There are renderings of the finished building and updated photos and videos of the progress at www.nlc.tv/building-updates.

To learn more about the event, call Daniel King at 988-3502 or email daniel@nlc.tv anytime.

Visit the event web page at www.hoopsforthedream.com or learn more about Next Level Church or its building project these funds will support by visiting www.nlc.tv.

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