First Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet broke ground on a 39,144 square-foot worship center this month that is scheduled to open in early 2022.

FBC Pastoral Care and Senior Adult Pastor David Fallin said an 800-foot tent was erected to “make a special day of it,” with city officials, dignitaries, church leaders, congregants and staff present for the ceremony that culminated with a large group of stakeholders turning the dirt to celebrate the long-anticipated addition.

FBC Administrative Pastor Darrin Mechling said about 700 people attended the ceremony on the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy campus.

“We closed on the loan last week,” Fallin said last Wednesday. “The Lord has done wonderful things.”

Mechling said the new worship center space is a $8.5 million project. A capital building campaign began with $3.3 million pledge over the next three years. Already $1 million have been collected.

“It’s called ‘Faith Forward Future,’ ” said Mechling. “Church members have pledged. We started casting the vision for the worship center last December.”

The church has just under 1,000 resident members.

The worship center will connect to the current sanctuary and will seat up to 1,350 people, with room to expand. More office space and about 200 more parking spaces are expected to be added.

Mechling said for several years the church has been running out of space and there’s been a need to expand the facilities for “multiple services and multiple outreaches.” 

FBC Senior Pastor Dr. Phillip Dunn said the current sanctuary will turn into a commons area that will include a coffee bar and visiting space. Baptisms will continue to be performed there, he said.

Dunn also said that there will be replacing and repairing significant areas of Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and church office space damaged by a tornado last March.

“We are unified and excited about being in the heart of Mt. Juliet and reintroducing ourselves to our city so people will know who we are and what we are,” Dunn said. “It’s somewhat like building a new front porch.”

This new face of the church comes with a beacon of a nearly 75-foot steeple that won’t be missed in the landscape.

“This new addition is a blessing and gives us a new way to facilitate our ministry,” said Dunn. “A facility is only as good as the facility’s ministry. It’s so important and doing this is to touch lives to the Gospel. We are excited to be further known strategically with a Christian academy.”

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