JONESBORO, Ark. (BP) — Twenty-two people were baptized, and an overflow room was used during the launch service of a new campus of Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ark., at Greene County Tech High School in Paragould.
“This was our first Sunday. We were in an auditorium that seats 999 people, and we had 1,055 people there,” said Breck Freeman, administrative pastor of Central Baptist Church and former associate missions team leader at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. “We had an overflow room…. That was one of the most amazing things.”
“We had 15 people scheduled for baptism, but seven people who had already been saved came forward to be baptized,” Freeman said of the Aug. 12 launch.
In addition to those counted during the worship service held in Greene County Tech’s auditorium, 219 children and church workers brought the church launch’s total attendance to 1,274.
Before launching its Paragould campus, Central Baptist Church had two Jonesboro campuses and a Newport campus. In the works for more than a year, Central Baptist’s Paragould campus was born from the church discovering that about 200 church members were commuting to its other campuses from Paragould, Freeman noted.
Eighty-seven people attended the Paragould campus’ first new members’ class on the last Sunday of July. With 44,000 people in Greene County, around 44 percent of the population has no church affiliation.
“I think Central Baptist Paragould will give people a place to go,” Freeman said. “It’s a multi-generational church. Children to senior adults were all present on the first day. It’s a family atmosphere, but it’s also a church where single people can come and find their place. It’s where high school and college students can find their place.”
Central Baptist’s Paragould campus is already planning to add a second service to accommodate its first-ever service attendance. The church is currently seeking to purchase property for a church building in Paragould, a project they hope to begin within the next 18 months, Freeman said.