GRESHAM, Ore. (BP)–After nine years of setting up and taking down each Sunday in temporary quarters, the dream of having their own facilities is closer to becoming a reality for Greater Gresham (Ore.) Baptist Church.
In what pastor Keith Evans is calling “a miraculous display of sacrificial giving,” the church recently received cash, stocks, bonds, jewelry, a car and other financial commitments totaling $2 million for the construction of new facilities — with $1.2 million already in hand.
Capital stewardship experts usually project churches raising funds equal to two to three times their annual budget. In the case of Greater Gresham, approximately six times their annual budget was raised.
“We’ve gotten to be part of a miracle,” Evans said. “God is working among us, and the people have responded with sacrificial generosity.”
The commitments and sacrifice made after a six-week awareness-building emphasis spanned all ages. Children of the congregation gave $891, while youth pledged more than $6,000 for the next three years. “God orchestrated many factors to accomplish this,” Evans said. “We’re not experts on how to do this.”
Greater Gresham voted Jan. 3 to build an 800-seat worship center and 15,000-square-foot, two-story educational building and to renovate existing structures. The work will be done as one project, rather than in phases. The new construction will be contracted; the remodeling will be done by volunteers.
Groundbreaking on the church’s strategically located property — six acres on a main thoroughfare — is expected to take place by summer.
Factors outlined by Evans that combined to bring about the solid support for building included the joining of Greater Gresham and Mt. Hood Baptist churches together in 1997 at the Mt. Hood property. Mt. Hood members had been praying more than 20 years ago for a multipurpose building on their site. The congregation adopted a vision statement two years ago that emphasized the acquisition of property and subsequently received a donation of two acres of land adjoining the church property.
“It is important to look beyond just getting a building built,” associate pastor Joe Flegal said. “We wanted to develop spiritual maturity; to look at what God wanted to do within us.”
The church had three primary purposes in mind when they began the campaign, Evans said. They wanted to raise money for the new facility, grow in spiritual maturity, and celebrate God’s provision.
“We believe the spiritual transformation led to the sacrificial giving of the congregation,” Evans said. “Some postponed vacations, others gave their Christmas bonuses, others the refunds on their tax returns.”
“It was very scary when I made the commitment, it’s not what I had planned,” said church member Linda Griggs. “I had to realize I wasn’t in control of anything, God was faithful and accomplished what he wanted in my life.”
“We are seeing God working and are joining him, Griggs said. “How can you fail when you partner with God?”
About 300 people worship Sunday mornings at Greater Gresham.
Ernsting is editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness.