Great news folks — the recession is OVER (at least in Dallas)!  



First Baptist Dallas, an apparent bellwether church, has predicted a sunny economic forecast.  Here's last Monday's headline in The Dallas Morning News.




First Baptist Dallas unveils $130 million building plan for downtown campus


Monday, November 2, 2009


By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News



First Baptist Church of Dallas today announced a $130 million capital campaign to build a 3,000-seat worship center, a religious education building and parking garage, a glass concourse, and a sky bridge.


The project promises to transform a stretch of downtown’s St. Paul Street, near the attention-grabbing Arts District.


“The finest facility in this area should be one that glorifies almighty God,” said the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas.


Five older buildings on the church campus will come down, but the 1890 sanctuary – where the congregation has long worshipped – will remain for weddings, funerals and other special events.

Jeffress said an independent church fundraising consultant, Doug Turner, had determined that this is the largest church building program in modern history.


The congregation stood in affirmation of the deacons’ unanimous call for a capital campaign, beginning in the spring.


But a formal vote by members is expected in a couple of weeks, after question-and-answer sessions.

Jeffress told worshippers that more than $62 million has been pledged or given already.


Dallas Tom Leppert led the congregation in prayer at one morning service and afterwards called the building project “a very important investment in downtown Dallas.”


Check out the church web site (http://ascendio.com/fbd/) to be awed by the "transformation" First Baptist Dallas plans to make at a $130 million price tag. 


You can also read about it at the following link:




In the above article, church fundraising experts claim that the $130 million capital campaign to build a 1.5 million square foot, state-of-the-art campus is the largest church building program in modern history.  Why would we expect any less from "THE BIG D"? 


Here's an excerpt from the church report article:


"First Baptist's building program is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end to better minister to and meet the needs of the community," said Dr. Robert Jeffress, Pastor. "Now more than ever, our church is firmly committed to spreading the message of God's love to transform lives and our City. "

In two special services this morning, Dr. Jeffress informed the congregation that already more than $62 million has been committed to this campaign. Mark Lovvorn, chair of the church's Planning and Development Committee, further noted that the economic downturn has led to unprecedented potential savings in construction costs, citing research showing that for every dollar spent the church will receive up to $1.30 in value.  


Now that savings really makes this humongous project worthwhile… 


Not to be outdone by the Dallas Cowboys, Dr. Robert Jeffress justified the expansion project this way at the above link:  "Jerry Jones recently (unveiled a new $1.2 billion 'temple to sport.'  In these tough economic times, why can't we use our gifts to build a church building that provides a spiritual oasis and matches the splendor and majesty of God?"


Why indeed? 


Nor surprisingly, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, a member of First Baptist Dallas, wholeheartedly endorses the project.  Here's what he had to say at a press conference: 

"This is a critical and important investment in downtown Dallas," Mayor Leppert said.  "It will have an impact on this community and what we're trying to accomplish of creating more of an urban setting that is vibrant and exciting and brings people downtown.  This is going to be exciting effort, not only in terms of Sunday but all the other different activities and what it will to contribute."


Sounds like the mayor is more excited about the impact on downtown Dallas than the pastor.


Here's a description of the new facility provided by The Church Report:

 The proposed plan, designed by innovative Dallas-based architect firm, The Beck Group, will physically change the landscape of the Dallas skyline, galvanizing a clear presence of the church at the center of the city. The campus, which will be certified by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System, will include a newly built 3,000-seat worship center, providing an intimate setting including the latest in audio-visual technology.  

Senior adult education space will be below the worship center along with 300-parking spaces, which will provide easy access for the older generation.


Across from the worship center and connected by a sweeping glass concourse, will be an expansive six-floor education building for the preschool, children and youth ministries; including play areas, two side-by-side gymnasiums and an
 outdoor patio.  An adjacent, enclosed parking structure with 500-plus spaces will provide convenient drop-off for young families. 

At the heart of the new campus will be a fountain plaza complete with gathering places that will add one acre of new green gathering places, and an oval pool with a stone water tower topped with a cross at its center.


The church's historic steeple, taken down in the 1960s because of safety concerns and then installed in the Criswell Center multipurpose facility in 2006, will be restored to its original height. The current sanctuary, which dates to 1890, will be retained as a site for weddings, funerals and other special events. The Truett Building and the Veal Garage, inadequate to meet today's needs will be torn down to make way for these new structures.


Dr. Jeffress claims that the church has a "hodge-podge" of buildings; so some of them will be demolished to make way for this state-of-the-art facility, which we repeat comes with a $130 million price tag! 


The Church Report article concludes with the following information:

 As a part of the next steps, First Baptist will ask its members to make a three-year commitment, above and beyond their regular contributions, to the building program, with the total committed being announced on May 16, 2010.  If all goes according to plan, construction will start in the fall of 2010 and be completed debt-free in 2013.


Here's how Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press described the monumental project in his article "First Baptist Church Dallas launches $130 million building project":




Once considered the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, First Baptist Church has declined from 25,000 members under its legendary pastor of 50 years, W.A. Criswell, to about 11,000 today.


Under leadership of Robert Jeffress, who took over as pastor in 2007, leaders say the church is growing again, but present facilities are inadequate for innovative ministries needed to reach today's generation.


The plans for the church campus include a high-tech, 3,000-seat worship center, which will double the church's current worship capacity. There will also be an education center and 500-space parking garage.

Several of seven major buildings currently in the church's sprawling complex on six city blocks will be demolished to make way for construction. The current historic sanctuary will remain, with a steeple restored to its original height. It will continue to be used for weddings, funerals and special events.


New landmark features include a towering stone waterfall topped with a luminescent cross.  A shallow pool surrounded by green space will provide both a common area for downtown residents and guests and a place for open-air baptism services.


"We're creating what I like to call a spiritual oasis in the middle of downtown Dallas," Jeffress said Oct. 3 on Dallas radio station KBCI. "It is going to be the most beautiful facility in downtown Dallas."


With construction scheduled to begin July 2010 and expected take about two-and-a-half years to complete, the church is one of several major construction projects ongoing in downtown Dallas. In October, the $350 million AT&T Performing Arts Center opened. In September, ground was broken for a $500 million Convention Center Hotel.


In the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys recently christened a new state-of-the-art football stadium. 


"I think if Jerry Jones can build a $1.3 billion temple to the god of sports out there in Arlington, we can spend a 10th of that, which is what we're doing, $130 million, to build a facility for the glory of the one and only God," Jeffress quipped on KBCI. (This gives new meaning to keeping up with the Joneses)!!!


Dallas ain't no small town, honey.  They always do it BIG!!!  Big hat, big hair, big car, big house, and finally the big church.  Yes, First Baptist Dallas will be the mothership of all First Baptist churches scattered throughout Americana.  Move aside, First Baptist Jacksonville — you're in the minors now!

Stay tuned…  We're just getting revved up on this story.  Until tomorrow, enjoy this YouTube video that may bring back memories of how they do it in Dallas…








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