Into 2000 and beyond
The attempt to purchase the adjacent 2.3 acres failed. However, with the existing building loan to be retired in 2000, the decision was made to begin a search for property suitable for new construction. Although this would not be accomplished quickly, the Lord would ultimately lead Southwest to a piece of land that far exceeded everyone’s expectations. In the meantime, the early part of the new millennium was to bring many more and very exciting changes to Southwest, as the congregation’s growth continued at a rapid pace, with average attendance growing to 155 in the first year of the new century.In August 2000, a new Elder was installed. This was, of course, a joyous occasion; however, it was also a time of reflection and sadness when one of Southwest’s longtime Elders had to move away due to his job.Additionally, after ten years of service at Southwest, Jim Mitchell resigned in September 2000 and a new minister, Lonnie Davis, was hired in December. Although seeing Jim leave was difficult, Lonnie proved, early on, to be filled with a genuine love for the Lord and for his fellowman, while also possessing a prolific knowledge of God’s Word and a well developed talent for presenting the Word in an interesting and thought provoking manner. His skillful ability to present life-lesson style sermons from the Word would serve as a catalyst for another surge in spiritual and numerical growth.During the early part of 2001. with attendance regularly reaching 170-180 levels, it became obvious that a two-service format was the only way to effectively continue serving the congregation and the community. This format began in April, and record, single-day attendance levels began to increase to new highs. Additionally, Southwest started seeing Sunday- School attendance increase to the point that consideration had to be given on how to convert rooms that were being used for offices to classrooms; but, then where would the needed office space be located? Southwest had a huge dilemma; the building and the parking lot that had been built 17 years before to serve from 150 to 180, at maximum capacity; were bulging at the seams. With the installation of additional Deacons in March 2001, the leadership and congregation continued with the Lord’s work. knowing that He would show- the way.In May of 2001, Southwest hired Justin Hatfield as its first youth minister intern. Justin was only there for the summer before going back to school in the fall; however, his work with the youth group resulted in a level of enthusiasm for the Lord and His Word that had not been seen before. This excitement in the youth group about working for the Lord made it obvious that a full-time youth minister had to be a part of future plans.In the summer of 2001,. the Lord led Southwest to the perfect piece of property, twenty plus acres just four miles down the road from the 750 Courthouse Road location. The property had plenty of road frontage and a house that could serve as temporary offices, freeing space in the existing building for additional classrooms until a new facility could be built. With more than twenty acres, the congregation’s leadership knew this property was large enough that a landlocked situation couldn’t stop Southwest from expanding, as needed, for years and years to come. At a price that was, comparatively, much less than that of the 2.3 acres the congregation had failed to purchase, it was almost too good to be true; but through the Lord all things are possible. An offer was made for the property and in September 2001 the land that would be the future home of Southwest Church of Christ became a reality.With all that happened in 2001, the excitement about God’s Work at Southwest was through the roof, and on Sundays when only one service was held, (to conduct congregational business, make special announcements, install Deacons, etc.), the crowd was almost through the walls and the parking lot was overflowing. Average attendance for the year was 176, with record, single day attendance at 218. Once again, the only thing that overshadowed these record numbers was the amazing spiritual growth being manifested at Southwest and, with this growth, the congregation was poised for even greater service to the Lord in the coming year. In a spirit of solidarity and unity in the Lord, with the help of Arks, Incorporated, (a church building / capital development consulting company). Southwest embarked on a building and capital campaign program in March 2002. March, April and May were busy months for the newly appointed building and capital campaign committees. Countless hours were spent studying current and future programs, projecting the congregation’s growth potential and determining the size and type facilities needed to meet the current needs of Southwest, as well as her needs for the coming years. By early May ’02, concept drawings for a new building were presented to the congregation; and the capital campaign committee began home visits and group presentations aimed at securing financial pledges from the membership to assist in financing the construction of a new building. At the conclusion of the capital campaign, in early June, the generous hearts at Southwest had amazed one and all. $845.000.00 had been pledged toward the construction of a new home for the work of the Lord and service to the congregation and surrounding community.One could think that, having decided on a basic building concept and having secured a large portion of the financial commitment needed to move forward with a building program in just the first five months of 2002, probably not much else could have happen. Really, how much excitement can these people at Southwest stand? Well, at least a little more. In May, five new Deacons were installed and Justin Hatfield returned to continue his work as youth minister. Justin returned with tentative plans to take the position full time at some point in the future after completing his education. Surely, this was a large enough dose of excitement and joy to last for quite awhile. Well, actually, although excited and joyous beyond description, the congregation was just getting primed for the real excitement that would come as they moved forward with their building program.At the annual Elder / Deacon / Minister Mid-Year Meeting, in June, it was decided that. based on the tremendous success of the capital campaign, it would be both prudent and feasible to move forward with the building program targeting completion in 18 to 24 months. With average attendance now in the 180′s, a membership with an indescribable level of excitement for the Lord’s work and an ever-growing faith in the truth that all things are possible through Him, what better time could there be to move forward with His work.In June 2002, Southwest’s building committee and its leadership, with the help of Arks, Incorporated, started the process of putting together a financial package to present to potential lenders. When a commitment for financing has been secured, the project will be offered to architectural firms for bids. After architect / engineer interviews and employment of the selected firm. work with the county’s planning and zoning department will begin. At the appropriate time, the project will be offered for bid proposals from general contractors. With planning and zoning approvals and a general contractor employed, it is hoped that building construction can start in six to eight months.