For most people driving through Fort Worth, the former convenience store on Hemphill Drive was nothing but an eyesore. For Southside City Church, it was an opportunity.
Southside, originally a Texas Baptists church plant, was started specifically to minister to the poor in Fort Worth. The old convenience store presented a unique chance for Southside to move to the heart of the Hemphill Drive neighborhood, where they had already started housing and feeding ministries. So, with the help of the Texas Baptists Church Architecture team, Southside created plans to transform the store into a church facility.
“If we could have chosen a location to have a building 11 years ago, we would have chosen Hemphill… and now God is moving us there,” Darren Auvenshine, pastor of Southside, said excitedly.
The Church Architecture Team worked closely with the church to design a building that would best suit their ministries. Each room was designed with multiple uses in mind, and the building will provide spaces for the community to gather throughout the week.
Most importantly, Auvenshine wants Southside to be a home to those in need. He is confident that the new location will allow the church to most effectively minister both physically and spiritually to the people God is calling them to.
At First Baptist Church of Lorena, the food pantry they started five years ago has outgrown the church building. So, the church has proposed a new 5,000 square foot building to house the food pantry, along with other ministries.
The food pantry, which distributes food twice a month, began its program five years ago, feeding 15 families. Now they feed close to 60 families, distributing roughly 15,000 pounds of food every other week. They also send weekend meals to the local schools to distribute to children in need.
Ekern worked with members of FBC Lorena to identify what they would need to successfully house their ministry. They found that a new, larger building would allow the ministry to continue to grow. By placing an emphasis on installing larger refrigerators and freezers, the food pantry will also be able to provide healthier food options.
“We’ll be able to provide more fresh produce, meat and refrigerated food with a designated space,” Susan Yow, a member of FBC Lorena and one of the founders of the food pantry, explained.
In addition to housing the food pantry, the new building will also host some of FBC Lorena’s other ministries. A clothing closet will be available to the local community, and classrooms will host English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, financial planning seminars and health fairs.
Yow is excited to see how the building will meet the needs of the community. Though it has not always been easy to plan, Yow knows it is all in God’s hands.
FBC Marble Falls has hosted a food pantry for almost 20 years, but when the church moved into a new building in a more affluent area, its new location was not ideal for a food pantry. Following Jesus’ example of meeting people where they are, the church decided to build a community center to house their ministries where the need was greatest, in a more urban area separate from the church’s campus.
“This property has served this community for over 100 years and we want to continue the legacy,” Jason Coleman, project director of the new community center, said.
As they began designing the building, it was important to FBC Marble Falls that the new community center would serve more than just their church’s ministries. The existing soup kitchen will be moving into the building full-time and a counseling center with paid, certified counselors available will be on-site. The building will also house Cornerstone Baptist Church, a small church that has sat on the property for 20 years.
With all these different ministries, Ekern helped FBC Marble Falls create a space where each ministry could function separately, but within the same building and without disrupting each other.
Already anticipating expansion, the church built walls tall enough for an eventual second story in the building, for which Ekern also designed a conceptual floor plan. Coleman explained that it was important to the church that the building would continue to grow with their outreach. FBC Marble Falls will be able to serve more people than ever before.
The church architecture team has been hard at work, ensuring that all of these churches have the conceptual plans they need to expand their buildings. Ekern is excited to see this change in church planning and the new emphasis on meeting needs.
“Suddenly, it seems like the Baptist churches of Texas are aware that it’s time to respond, and…this is an opportunity God has given us to reach people and to meet their physical needs,” she explained. “The most important thing these churches can do is pray, and then after that, it is up to them to do what God has asked of them.” The Church Architecture Team is here to ensure that happens.