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Roebuck-area church plans second campuscomment (0)

January 19, 2006

By Sondra Washington

When Chris Crain became pastor of South Roebuck Baptist Church, Birmingham, in 2003, he knew the church would have to make some major decisions soon.
Like many other congregations in the area, the Birmingham Baptist Association church noticed a decline in membership, with many families moving to nearby St. Clair County and the surrounding areas. Yet the 51-year-old church did not believe God was leading it to relocate. After conducting demographic studies and surveys, church leaders discovered that the eastern Birmingham area is losing almost 1,000 people per year, Crain said.
But South Roebuck Baptist plans to continue ministering to the community and, at the same time, develop a new campus in Margaret in St. Clair County, where as many as 20,000 people are projected to live in the next seven years.
“It would be sharing the same administrative staff, the same financial resource pool and we would share a lot of the same DNA between the two congregations,” Crain said. “That campus out there is going to be a lot more contemporary and focused on younger families. We have ministries for all ages (in Roebuck), but we are a more traditional mind-set, and I think that’s a strength for us in this community.”
He added, “We want to be here to minister to the community not only as it was when we started in 1955 but to continue to minister here as it is becoming today.”
Ben Chandler, director of missions for St. Clair Baptist Association, calls this effort a new concept. “I think it’s a very positive move on the part of the church, and it’s a very important part of a new community being developed,” he said. “I believe it will be a great blessing to those families who are establishing their homes in that area.”
Home Bible study groups will begin in late January and services in the fall in the Margaret area. The church has already started a capital stewardship campaign to build the new campus and is planning ministries for the area including a much needed day-care center.
“We are excited about this new campus,” Crain said. “We hope this might inspire a church in a community that is changing to think outwardly and not become frightened and circle the wagons but be on the advance for God’s Kingdom.”

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