Sunday is set to be a big day in the life of a Southaven church, a church already opening its doors to those who have not encountered Christ before but which will officially open new physical doors to continue its mission to DeSoto County and beyond.
Central Church, a Baptist church plant that started in the home of Pastor Anders Lee nearly four years ago, recently took the step to construct its new facility at 7100 Getwell Road in Southaven, across the street from the office building complex the church family had been meeting in the past nearly three years.
Lee said the church will have its grand opening and ribbon cutting event on Sunday, Jan. 21. Breakfast will be served at 9:15 a.m., followed by services at 10 a.m. The open house for the public will commence at 11:30 a.m., continue to 2 p.m. and will include a ribbon cutting around 1:30 p.m.
The building, seven months to completion with C&M Builders doing the construction, has actually been 16 months in the making. That's how long it took from conception and approval from its church governing body to begin its construction, to the first services being held there on Nov. 5, what Lee called “an exciting day.”
Being still in its relative infancy as a church plant, Lee said Central Church had to prove to its church governing body it was ready to take the steps needed to gain support and pursue the project.
“There are three standards; your attendance, your money and a statement of recommendation from the people you are working with on a monthly basis,” Lee said. “We rented for three years from Rick Sparkman across the street and he was happy to provide that statement to our church governing body. We had to prove that we could raise $55,000, and we did. We had to pay for architectural fees and so forth and we did all of that on our own. Our people are very much to be commended for stepping up to the plate and making it happen.”
Lee added Central Church today has more than 200 worshippers who are either members or regular attendees and supporters of the congregation. That is significant growth from October 2014, when Central Church began as a Bible study of about 20-25 people meeting at Lee’s home.
That growth required church leaders to consider a new home, a move that actually helps save the church some money.
“The building note on a building this size would actually be cheaper than our overall rental and utilities involved,” Lee explained. “It’s like a young couple renting an apartment and they realize they are financially viable to go buy a house and pay less on the house note. That way, you’re building equity on the property building that you are actually in, which is the case here.”
The move across the street from their former meeting place also keeps Central Church true to its name: Central.
“We chose the name Central because the whole team felt led to plant the church in the north central part of DeSoto County along the Goodman corridor,” Lee said. “Everybody involved early on encouraged us to do that. We felt like there was room here for such a church along Goodman and that’s borne out to be true.”
Calling itself “contemporary in DNA, but conservative in doctrine,” Lee said Central desires to reach the large segment of the DeSoto County population that do not currently have a church home, or choose not to go to church at all.
“When you consider the demographics of the county, 52 percent of DeSoto Countians are under the age of 50,” Lee said. “When you compare the statistics to the age bracket of who is actually in the church across the board in the county, 38 percent of the county actually goes to a church on Sunday morning. Over 60 percent of the number of people who go to church on a Sunday morning are over the age of 55. Who do we need to reach? The younger group.”
That’s why Lee said you will find a “laid back, contemporary” style of worship time at Central Church, adding that there are some in his congregation who would not be going to church at all if it were not for the type of service befitting today’s contemporary atmosphere.
“With the millennial group, the contemporary venue lends itself to reach them more,” Lee said. “We’re aiming at reaching the millennial incomers into DeSoto County who are here with FedEx, at the casinos or wherever they are at in the workforce. We’re aiming at reaching them.”
Lee said Central has been grateful for the open arms that have received them into the Getwell Road area, awash with several places of worship already serving different denominations. He added Central wants to continue the church planting elsewhere once its preverbal feet are firmly planted on the ground.
“We’re already supporting missionaries, church planters in our state, and missionaries around the world, in Peru, the Philippines and in Mexico, and we want to plant again,” Lee said. “As soon as we get organized into our own New Testament church, our mentality is to ask, ‘Where in the county can we do this again?’”
For more information on Central Church, you can visit the church’s website at centraldesoto.com or search for central.church.980 on Facebook.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.