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Relocation of Gadsden’s 12th Street results in triple-church move, new friendscomment (0)

October 14, 2010

By Anna Swindle

When 12th Street Baptist Church decided to move from its century-old location in downtown Gadsden to a former Kmart building in Rainbow City, it had no idea of the relationships that would form as a result. Thanks to the relocation, the Etowah Baptist Association congregation is now closely connected with two other Gadsden congregations: Abundant Life Church and New Faith Community Church.

“It was a domino effect,” Craig Carlisle, pastor of 12th Street Baptist, said of the churches’ introduction to one another. “We’ve been able to see God’s hand in this, and in this economic climate in a small town like Gadsden, it really is a remarkable story.”

It all started with 12th Street Baptist’s desire to move closer to Rainbow City, where much of its congregation is located now. So the church began looking for a group to purchase its soon-to-be vacant church building. Abundant Life also wanted to move closer to the community it serves and was interested in buying the building. But it was unable to get loan approval without first selling its building. That’s where New Faith Community came in.

The church, which was formed in December 2009, was looking to move from its temporary location to a permanent spot, and Abundant Life’s building turned out to be the perfect spot.

“Even six months ago, when we knew this was the community we needed to be in, we couldn’t have imagined that we’d have not only a facility but a beautiful, well-equipped facility that we couldn’t have pulled off on our own even if we’d tried,” said John Martin, New Faith’s pastor. “We knew God wanted us to be in this community, and He’s given us a base of operations now.”

While Martin’s congregation has moved into the space Abundant Life left behind, the first phase of 12th Street Baptist’s renovations to its new property aren’t expected to wrap up until March, so it’s sharing its building with Abundant Life.

On Oct. 3, the three congregations came together for a special service, held “tent-style” at 12th Street Baptist’s new location. It was a chance for the members of the three groups to meet each other and celebrate how well the moves have worked out for each church.

“The leadership of the three congregations have met and gotten to know each other, and of course, the congregations have heard about what has happened, but we thought it would be great for everyone to come together for a time of celebration and praise to hear not only the perspective of their own leader but of other leaders as well,” Martin said.

He said it also was a time to reflect on how God provided and brought each barrier down.

Carlisle agreed.

“We’ve had struggles along the way — mainly with obtaining financing — but God has prevailed and everyone is where they need to be,” he noted.

Though come next spring each congregation will be settled in its new location, the three pastors are emphatic that their churches will remain linked to one another.

“We really needed each other for this to happen, and God brought it all together,” Bishop Terry Jones of Abundant Life said. “So we’ve avowed to stay together, and we’re excited about our relationships.”

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