Greetings from your outpost of dynamic and Christ centered ministry each and everyday in Downtown Memphis! I am absolutely amazed at how much has taken place in the last year at First Church. The most visible event is obviously the building of the new sanctuary. As I have said so many times before, this sanctuary is just the beginning of what I believe is an incredible new chapter in the life of First Church. As we are able to expand our capacity to reach others in worship, we will be able to expand the impact the people of First Church will have for God’s Kingdom.
Where are we now in the sanctuary building process?
As you know a little less than a year ago we signed a contract with Chris Woods Construction to begin construction of the exterior of the sanctuary based on the amount of money we had on hand and add the interior portions of the sanctuary as money was raised. At this point we needed to raise over 2 million dollars to be able to complete the sanctuary. As construction was starting, we had a series of vision banquets leading up to a Sunday of celebration as our congregation pledged to give just over $400,000 towards the building of the sanctuary over three years. As of today, we have already received about half the money pledged and we are still in our first year of giving!
In September we received another $500,000 from Mrs. Hamilton getting us very close to having enough funds to at least get us a certificate of occupancy and be able to worship in an unfurnished and very much bare building. After a lot of hard work from our fund raising committee, we received another gift of $500,000 from Robert and Carolyn Rogers as well as other generous gifts allowing us to add a significant portion of the sanctuary interior to our contract as well as meet the very basics of our audio needs. We need to raise approximately $500 - $700,000 more for furnishings, complete Audio and Video, and installation of the Whitehaven organ.
Every step along the way, there have been significant challenges and even times where we have wondered how in the world we would be able to complete this huge project. This a few Sunday’s ago I preached on the story of Jesus inviting Peter to join him as he walked on the water. Peter did great walking on water until he began to question his ability to walk on water. Of course he couldn’t walk on water! At least, not on his own power. We learn through Peter that Jesus always provides whatever we need to do what he has called us to do! Plus, Jesus is even there to pick us up and put on back on our feet after we lose faith and fall!
Let us make sure we keep our eyes on Jesus at this critical time in the life of First Church. If we do, we will not only see a new building erected at the corner of 2nd St and Poplar, we will see a sanctuary filled with people experiencing the presence of God and going out each week to reach our City for Christ!
Grace and Peace
Andy Rambo, Pastor