Religion

Northside Baptist pays for land for new church 10 years early

To most individuals, raising a million dollars seems hard, but it's a challenge that members of Northside Baptist Church are getting used to.

The congregation is trying to raise $4.5 million within the next few years to build a new church. They recently paid off an $895,200 loan for property at the corner of Dave Lyle Boulevard and Red River Road in Rock Hill -- 10 years early.

They burned their mortgage earlier this year during a ceremony that was almost five years to the day they bought the land, which is about three miles from the church's current location at 1140 Curtis St.

Paying the loan so quickly was a "God thing," said Jerry Sosebee, senior pastor of the church for 14 years. It also saved the church $132,000.

"We're just an average church," Sosebee said. "We give God all the credit. When you do what he wants you to do, he supplies the needs."

Until a few months ago, the congregation owed $146,000 on the loan, he said. But the Baptist faith encourages everyone to help, and members came through.

The church is made up of approximately 350 middle-class individuals who attend one of the two Sunday morning services, he said. The largest single gift was $67,000 from the estate of a congregation member. Most donations were weekly gifts.

"Some church members refinanced homes to have money to give," he said.

A sign now stands at the site of the new church that says, "Following God into His Future." The pastor admits that some individuals were not excited initially about leaving their old location -- where so many marriages, christenings and funerals had been held.

Homecomings at the new site have helped members make the transition, said Elaine Guyton, chairman of the long-range planning committee.

"We are excited about what this church can do in our community," she said. "It gives us an opportunity to grow and do more outreach.

Paying off the land so quickly was encouraging, she said. "We're all kind of awed."

Sosebee notes that the church will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, and the congregation would have loved to have broken ground on the site this year.

To raise part of the money needed to build, Northside plans to sell the current church.

The new church will have three phases. The first phase is the equivalent to the current 35,000-square-foot church and will include a gymnasium that will be used for worship, a commercial kitchen and 20 to 25 classrooms. The second phase will be an administrative building, and the third will be the sanctuary.

Contact Northside Baptist church at 327-7119 or www.nbcrh.org.

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