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Keeping the Faith: First Baptist Church

Keeping the Faith wraps up with a look at one of the few local churches that has been in a growth and building mode.
Keeping the Faith wraps up with a look at one of the few local churches that has been in a growth and building mode, First Baptist Church in Johnson City.

It took a step of faith for First Baptist to build its new $10 million facility on Reynolds Rd. For 100 years, the church had been near Wilson Hospital. UHS ended up buying the property from the church.

"When we came up here on the hill, it gives us more resources in order to reach out in many different ways where we were limited before. It allows us more space," said Bill Kolb.

The space is certainly nice. Seating capacity of about 1,900 allows First to have only one Sunday morning service now, instead of two. There are also gymnasiums and plenty of classrooms that have allowed for its children's ministry to expand.

"If we meet the needs of teens and children, the parents come and the whole family then has somewhere to get engaged and involved," said Pastor Jim Murphy.

That's the case for Carrie Arquette, her husband and their three daughters. They came here 10 years ago and never left.

"They're doing well. The ministries here help and they learn so many Bible versus from the Awana ministry and stuff. They're learning and growing and know different behaviors and the difference between wrong and right," said Arquette.

And, the Arquette's three children are safe here thanks to a comprehensive security system.

"Child protection is a really important thing for us in our children and teens ministries. In an age where there is divorce, remarriage and custody battles, yeah you have to check your children in, you have to check them out. We don't just release your kids. We take that really serious," said Murphy.

Workers are also screened and have background checks run on them. While the building is impressive, some things don't change.

"The message remains the same. We're reaching out to a lost and dying world that needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that's where our first and foremost mission is," said Kolb.

Not being located in downtown J.C. does have challenges when it comes to ministry to the community. But, Pastor Murphy says the church does outreach including with flood relief, gift giving, hosting blood drives and having Christian concerts.

"Some of our programming has changed. We've gone to a small group ministry at night where people meet in homes on Sunday evenings rather than come here to the church. We're trying to make inroads into the community and serve them, at the same time tell the truth and relevance of the scripture," said Pastor Murphy.
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