DALLAS, April 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- First Baptist Church of Dallas, led by nationally known pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, today dedicated its new $130 million campus with the help of government, business and ministry leaders from around the nation, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Dr. David Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and host of Turning Point radio and television ministries.
Following the Grand Opening on Easter Sunday, March 31, this morning's services further celebrated God's provision in helping First Baptist complete the largest Protestant church building campaign in modern history during one of the worst economic recessions since the Great Depression. Honoring the Church's past heritage and commitment to Dallas, the service began with an archival video of former First Baptist Pastor Dr. W.A. Criswell in 1974 saying, "It is our desire, under God and the presence of the Lord, to build in the heart of Dallas the most beautiful lighthouse for Christ on this earth."
Mark Lovvorn, chair of the new campus Planning & Development Committee, publicly thanked Dr. Jeffress, for his original God-given vision to create a spiritual oasis in the heart of Dallas, announcing for the first time that the Committee unanimously voted, unbeknownst to the First Baptist leadership, that the Fountain Plaza, a focal feature in the middle of the campus, will now officially be known as the "Jeffress Fountain Plaza."
"Thank you so much for this undeserved but greatly appreciated recognition," Dr. Jeffress said upon hearing the news. "I can't think of a greater honor than to have my name associated with a church I've loved my whole life."
Gov. Perry expressed his appreciation for the church's faithfulness while marveling at the physical and spiritual aspects of the campus that will serve the city of Dallas for years to come. "Let me add my profound, 'Wow!'" he exclaimed. "This is quite a place, and the way we do it in Texas. It is a beacon – a place where our salt and our light can truly be seen.
"Dr. Jeffress, the fountain that will appropriately have your name on it in downtown Dallas is a beautiful place that will draw men and women who need Christ," Gov. Perry added. "People who will come for its beauty but discover much more. Thank you for sending a powerful message, not just to this city, state or nation – but to the world. First Baptist Church of Dallas is truly reaching the world with God's love.
"I think of the woman [in the Bible] who met Jesus at the well," Gov. Perry reflected. "It is not our job to judge souls, but to point people to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We as fellow sinners will never condemn someone to salvation, but God can use us to show them grace and love them to it."
Visiting pastor Dr. Jeremiah shared a dedicatory message on the relevancy of the Church.
"If the church is being ignored because we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, that's one thing; but if we are deemed irrelevant because we aren't playing the world's game nearly as well as the world does, then that's a tragedy," Dr. Jeremiah said. "If we're going to be attacked or ignored by the world, let it be for turning the world upside down like the early apostles did. Not for trying to become so much like the world that you can't tell the difference between the two."
Dr. Jeremiah reminded the congregation the work is not over just because the building is complete. "When we have finished building the church, we must continue being the Church," he said. "The temptation with finishing the building is to take a deep breath, relax and say, 'Finally, we did it.' But some of the most challenging days you have will be before you.
"Today biblical Christianity is no longer being preached from the majority of pulpits of this land. As a result, America is losing her way and it's due in no small part because the Church has lost her way," he continued. "How thankful you ought to be that in the very center of this city is a church that knows what its mission is and a pastor who knows how to proclaim it."
Dr. Jeremiah challenged the First Baptist congregation to remember three priorities as it continues its ministry: the purpose of the Church, which is to bring glory to God; the program of the Church, which is the commandment of God to be light in a dark world; and the priority of the Church, which is the Great Commission to tell as many people as possible about Jesus.
"This is the commencement of this ministry – the beginning of the new phase of this ministry," Dr. Jeremiah concluded. "God has given you some great new tools and he's blessed you with a man of God as your pastor. You're located in one of the most strategic cities of the world and you're in heart of that city. I hope you are ready to begin the greatest days of First Baptist Dallas."
Located in the heart of downtown Dallas since 1868, First Baptist Dallas opened its state-of-the-art, $130 million campus last weekend, changing the Dallas skyline and adding three-quarters of an acre of green space to downtown. It includes the latest features and technological advances for any church, providing a unique worship experience and ministry opportunities.
The 122-year-old historic sanctuary is integrated with a 3,000-seat Worship Center connected by a glass sky bridge to the five-story Horner Family Center and Parking Garage. A high-impact cross-tower and fountain, featuring a stainless steel cross atop a pedestal rising 68 feet high and choreographed fountain jets accompanied by an original score of Christian hymns, sits in the center of the campus. For more information about First Baptist, visit http://www.FirstDallas.org.
Editor's Note: Photos of today's service are available upon request. For additional media information about First Baptist's new campus, including downloadable photos and videos, visit http://www.firstdallas.org/pressroom.
SOURCE First Baptist Church of Dallas