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East Gardendale Church grows, steps out on faith to relocatecomment (0)

April 17, 2008

By Ashley McCleery

When Pastor Allen Davis looks at his church’s new 15,000-square-foot building on Tarrant Road, he doesn’t just see a structure. He sees the Lord fulfilling His promise.

"The Lord … told us, ‘If we build it, they will come,’" Davis said. "So we took Him at His word."

And he’s not the first pastor of East Gardendale Baptist Church, Gardendale, to take the Lord up on an offer. In 1998, Ray Moore listened to the Lord and followed his dream to begin a new church in east Gardendale.

Twenty-five people met in Moore’s home on Tarrant Road — just down the road from the church’s new building. But the congregation soon began growing in faith and in numbers.

After much prayer and planning, the Birmingham Baptist Association church purchased a former KinderCare center on Main Street, which the members spent hours transforming into a church building.

Since Davis became East Gardendale Baptist’s pastor in 2001, he has also led the church by following God’s direction. As membership grew to 230, he obeyed the Lord by preparing to move back to east Gardendale.

While he admits to being anxious about purchasing six acres on Tarrant Road in 2002, Davis said he knew his job was to keep moving in the direction of the Lord’s vision.

"Most of us, like Moses, make a lot of excuses, but it’s time to step out of the boat," Davis said. So the congregation did.

On Oct. 6, 2006, it dedicated the new property to the Lord, and after nine months of construction, the congregation moved into its new home this March.

With the new building came new dreams and aspirations. "Our main goal is to reach the eastern side of Gardendale near Interstate 65," Davis said.

"We want to knock on every door there, which means at least 5,000 homes. So we’ve got a lot to do."

But great things come from small beginnings, noted Mike McLemore, executive director of Birmingham Association. "[T]hat’s always how the Lord works. It just mushrooms and grows."

McLemore has witnessed East Gardendale Baptist’s growth, which he chalks up to nothing less than a miracle of faith.

"They’ve been there to reach out to the community … because their vision was far beyond their walls," he said.

As a result, baptisms are also near the top of Davis’ to-do list. Right now, about a dozen people are waiting to be baptized, because the transformed KinderCare facility doesn’t have a baptistry.

The Saturday before moving into the new building, the congregation expressed its thanks for the miracle by walking around the old building seven times with a box containing the things it is carrying with it from that place, like love and friendship.

They repeated the march April 5 at the new building, marching through the hall circling the sanctuary while the pianist blew the shofar.

Unlike the biblical march around the walls of Jericho, the intent was not to see the building fall, but even if it did happen to fall, Davis said the only thing that matters is that Christ’s church — the body of believers — stands.

"Fifty years from now, think of how the church will impact Gardendale," he said. "If the church will stand when we’re all gone, that’s the mark of a true church."

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