Birmingham Metro Baptist Association will soon own a much larger facility than the office it is currently leasing, thanks to a gift from Baptist Health System.
The 16,000-square-foot building — located next door to BMBA’s current office on Montclair Road, directly across Medical Park Drive NE — will offer the association space for larger meetings and new ministry partners, said Chris Crain, BMBA executive director.
The BHS board voted to approve the gift Dec. 7, along with $350,000 to put toward building improvements.
“The BMBA is in a new season,” Crain said.
In November, the association formerly known as Birmingham Baptist Association entered into a new partnership with Bessemer Baptist Association and became BMBA, a new association with a new vision and new governing documents.
“Now we have this opportunity to move into a new facility,” Crain said, adding that the association hasn’t owned its own building since 2004, when it started leasing its current building from BHS.
For the past several years, that lease has been $1 per year, he said. “It has already been a tremendous blessing to be in partnership with Baptist Health.”
That partnership has been a long one. BMBA created BHS in 1922 with the purchase of what is known today as Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham. The association approves all of the members of the BHS board of trustees and has three members on the board.
Amy S. Allen, BHS president and CEO, says BHS and BMBA have “maintained a partnership and close relationship throughout the years.”
Spreading the gospel
“We have virtually the same mission, which is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in Birmingham; however, ours is focused in the health care arena,” Allen said.
In early October, BHS found another way to help out their partner in that mission. In 1975, the American Heart Association ground-leased the property at 1449 Medical Park Drive NE, with the agreement that when they ended their lease, any building built there would revert to the ownership of BHS.
In October, AHA terminated that lease, leaving behind their Birmingham headquarters building, which was built in the early 1980s.
‘Investment in their future’
“We began discussing the possibility of donating the American Heart Association building to the BMBA as soon as we received it in early October,” Allen said. “We had no use for the building and knew that it would be a valuable asset for the BMBA. We wanted to make an investment in their future by gifting it to them along with $350,000 in cash for needed improvements to the building.”
The goal is to have the paperwork completed by Dec. 31 and building improvements made between January and March 2021. BMBA hopes to make the move in the first quarter of 2021. Once BMBA moves, BHS will sell the current BMBA building at 750 Montclair Road.
“For us to have our own facility and be in this new season of ministry, we are just overwhelmed with all that God is doing through the association right now,” Crain said. “It’s truly remarkable.”
The new building nearly doubles their capacity — the current building is 9,600 square feet and holds BMBA staff along with partner ministries, including Workfaith Birmingham, Discovery Clubs of Alabama, Metro Changers and Pathways Professional Counseling.
“All that combined has been a great opportunity to create synergy among those ministries and the work (we do) together,” Crain said. “We’re excited to continue that.”
In the new building, BMBA will occupy the first floor and partner ministries will use the second floor.
The third floor will then be available for additional ministry opportunities, as will a conference center and additional meeting rooms.
“This is space we haven’t had before that we can steward for God’s work as our vision continues to unfold,” Crain said.
He says he’s especially excited about the possibility of using the conference center space in the future as a place to incubate church plants.
“We will have the opportunity to allow church plants and language and ethnic churches to meet in the facility alongside us as scheduled,” Crain said. “We are also encouraged by the reality that we will have a space where we can gather larger groups and socially distance and use that space to accomplish our mission, which is to encourage, equip and engage biblically faithful churches for the glory of God.”
Allen said BHS is excited to be a part of this transition.
“Baptist Health System board members who served before us were wonderful stewards of our resources, which allowed us to be in a position to be able to provide this donation of the building and cash to the BMBA,” she said. “We are excited to be able to provide for their future occupancy needs for hopefully many years to come.”
To read more about Baptist Health Systems, click here.
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