Historic congregation votes to relocate, ‘finish what was started’

Historic congregation votes to relocate, ‘finish what was started’

By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist

A building plan covered in prayer by Alabama Baptists. That’s the vision First Baptist Church, Springville, members have for constructing a new facility in their growing community.

“We want to do what will put our church in the best position to win people for Christ,” said First, Springville, lead pastor, Chip Thornton.

The 200-year-old church is one of the oldest in Alabama, but the congregation is not willing to rest on its past, Thornton said. Instead the congregation is looking to the future.

Need for space

“God is moving people to St. Clair County,” Thornton said. “We are at about 80 percent capacity most Sundays and hitting a point where we need to talk about space. The easy thing to do would be nothing but this is an evangelistic decision.”

FBC Springville’s current campus was built in three stages. The oldest of the buildings was built in 1967 and the newest was built in 1991. That means the current buildings are 25–50 years old. Renovations would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but building makes sense for other reasons, Thornton said.

“The new campus will put us on the main street in Springville,” Thornton said. “We will be moving to where the town is developing.”

The church purchased the 26-acre property in downtown Springville in 2006 from a seller who believed a church would be the best steward of the land. The church erected a sign — “Future Home of FBC Springville” — and built an athletic complex with soccer fields and a baseball diamond as part of their master plan to increase engagement with the community.

When the recession hit a year later plans for a new building were put on hold. For 11 years the work stalled as members adjusted to the impact of the recession.

David DuPre, a pastor at the church, said, “I was there when we put that sign in the ground. I made a commitment — God’s bride made a commitment — to the community that a church would be built here for the glory of God.”
The church paid the debt on the land in 2015 but the bulk of the 26 acres has remained undeveloped. A sermon series on Zechariah stirred the vision again, DuPre said.

“God showed us through the prophet Zechariah that we need to be a people of our word not for our glory but for God’s glory,” he said.

Financing project

In July the church voted unanimously to “finish what was started” and begin planning for construction of a new facility. Raising funds is first on the agenda. Consulting an architect will happen when the church reaches its first goal of $500,000 in savings.

Financing the new building with as little debt as possible also is one of the church’s goals.

Another is maintaining its focus on outreach, evangelism and discipleship, which is why First, Springville, hopes fellow Baptists will pray for them during the fundraising and construction process.

“The temptation will be to become distracted from our focus on making disciples,” Thornton said. “Pray that we will remain focused on the Great Commission. We forever desire to make God’s glory our passion in order to lead others to ‘Know, Grow and Go.’”