The offer came at the perfect time, Pastor Derek Staples said. The church had recently voted to approve a vision plan that included selling that campus — which includes its sanctuary built in the 1950s — and its south campus, known as EaglePoint Church, to buy land and build a facility large enough to hold the combined congregation.
The two congregations will meet for worship services at EaglePoint starting Sept. 4 until that property sells and the new building is completed.
Staples said church leadership originally considered remodeling both campuses, but then questioned the wisdom of pouring money into two sets of aging buildings.
Preparing for the future
“One day I was in my office staring at the pictures of my grandkids, and I started thinking about if they moved to Jacksonville, what kind of church would we like to see ministering to them? I think that’s when the Lord put in my heart [to get] the church in the best possible place they could be for the next 50 or 60 years,” Staples said. “I felt like the best option on the table would be for us to unite our two campuses, sell our two campuses and buy enough land that our church could dream anything they wanted to dream in the future, whether it was a Christian school or some kind of a ministry center — whatever they wanted to do, they would have the ability.”
JSU leadership reached out about purchasing the building early in the church’s planning process and met with church leadership two days after the vision plan, called Forward As One, was approved by church members.
According to university officials, the JSU board of trustees authorized the university’s president to enter into an agreement to buy the church building. The purchase is part of a greater project — JSU plans to build a new 1,000-seat Randy Owen Center for the Performing Arts.
Part of the plan now is to move some of the programs planned for the ROC to the renovated church building, such as practice for the Marching Southerners band. This will help reduce costs in their building project. They are working with architects to modify the design to connect to the FBC property.
‘Trusting the Lord’
Staples said everything came together for the sale, and he is praying the same thing will happen with the EaglePoint campus.
“I’m trusting the Lord is going to send the right person or group to purchase this building. We’ve had some interest already,” Staples said.
For the fall, the church will hold two Sunday morning services at the EaglePoint campus that Staples anticipates will already be pushing their capacity. They expect to expand to three services in early 2023.
“There are two words we’ve asked everybody to keep in mind — temporary and flexibility,” he said. “Everything we’re doing for the next couple of years will be temporary, so let’s stay as flexible as we can and trust that the Lord has amazing things in store for us.”
The church’s goal is to move into its new facilities debt free.