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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

FBC Center Point operating second campus as CrossPointcomment (0)

August 1, 2002

By Jennifer Davis Rash


What began as a vision for Ryan Whitley about four years ago has now become a reality that will soon impact northeast Jefferson County.
   
First Baptist Church, Center Point, where Whitley has served as pastor for six and one-half years, is reportedly the first church in Alabama to become one church with two locations.
   
According to research by staff members at First, Center Point, there are only 200 such churches in the nation.
   
“This is a God-thing,” Whitley said. “He has ordained this for [First Baptist, Center Point] and I am thankful that we are open to His will.

“This choice church is taking steps to make sure our future is bolder, brighter and bigger than our already brilliant past,” he explained. “It’s not about us, it’s about God.”
    
And what this means for Whitley is not only preaching during two Sunday morning worship services, but driving 12 miles in between those sermons.
   
The new 25-acre campus located in Argo — CrossPoint — held its first worship service July 10, following the kickoff  for construction July 8. A “ground blessing” was held at both locations July 7.
   
Whitley said regular Sunday and Wednesday night services continue at the Center Point location while worship at CrossPoint is held only on Wednesday evenings. The worship service is currently held in the first building under construction, even though it is not complete. It means meeting without air conditioning and in a primitive setting for a while. But the people are coming and First, Center Point, members are excited.
   
In fact, Whitley noted that a construction worker helping at the new location visited the Center Point location July 28. He has never attended church before, Whitley said. “We hope to win him to the Lord.”
   
While Sunday services are not scheduled to begin at the new location until early 2003, Whitley hopes to continue the Wednesday worship service until then.
   
Hugh Patrick, chairman of the building committee, said, “This is our future. Many of our people live here.”
   
Whitley added that people new to the church are already checking out CrossPoint.
“I met six people for the first time who came to the July 7 ground blessing,” Whitley said. “There is a lot of curiousity.”
   
A 25-member transition team also has been put in place to help reach the area, Whitley said. The team plans to communicate to both communities about the two locations, he noted. “They plan to say to the Center Point community that we are here to stay. And they plan to say to the [Argo, Springville, Pinson, Trussville, Clay] areas that we are here for them.”
   
And if the concept of a two-campus church weren’t enough, First, Center Point, also decided
to build part of the new campus themselves. An average of 40 members a week have helped with the first phase of construction since work began July 8, Whitley said.
   
Joining the church members are volunteer missions teams from other churches in Alabama and 11 other states. The volunteer teams are coming from churches that First, Center Point, has helped build over the years, Patrick said.
   
“We have built 40 churches in 25 years,” he noted. “Now some of them are helping us.”
One of those churches is Faith Baptist Church of East Berlin, Pa.
   
“We built their first building 15 years ago,” Whitley said. And now, they brought 20 volunteers and donated $3,896.52 to our project, he noted. “That is the equivilant of us giving $50,000,” Whitley said.
   
“This is an unbelievable sacrifice on their part,” he said, noting they average 60 in Sunday School.
Eric Johnson, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, said the decision to help with the construction was an easy one. “It was not a sense of obligation, but one of being able to help someone who has done so many things for you,” he said.
   
And so the stories go with each group coming to help.
   
Steve Parr, administrative pastor at First, Center Point, said the church anticipates the volunteer efforts will save the church several hundred thousand dollars as they work to complete this approximately $3 million project.
   
The church also is on schedule to reach its “Growing with God” building campaign of $1.8 million over the next three years, Parr said.
   
The first building at the Argo campus will be a 34,600-square-foot education building capable of holding 800. It will eventually become the children’s building.
   
The second phase of building will produce the worship center/multipurpose building. Current plans have the building designed to hold 800 in worship.
   
Also, Whitley said a large, spacious gathering area will be added.
   
Tony Murray, chairman of deacons for First, Center Point, works at the site every Thursday. “It is like painting a picture,” he said. “The members are rallying behind it and are excited.”

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