Southside Baptist has reason to rejoice today

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Enter His gates with thanksgiving.&uot;

Those words, outside the entrance of Southside Baptist Church’s newly constructed $1.2 million educational facility, are taken to heart by the hundreds of people who worship there each week.

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The two-story red brick building at the intersection of Turlington and Carolina roads gives one of the city’s largest Baptist congregations a wealth of much-needed new space, said the Rev. R. Stewart McCarter.

The new building adds seven classrooms, a music room and two choir rooms to the first floor and 11 classrooms to the second floor. The expansion also let the church expand its office space and add four new bathrooms.

Members of his congregation have described the new addition as beautiful, inspiring and wonderful, McCarter said.

Anne McDonald and her husband, John, members of Southside for the past seven years, say they have witnessed astounding growth in their church family over the years.

&uot;We seen the marvelous growth,&uot; said Anne McDonald. The couple also cleans the church.

&uot;We outgrew our main building so much that we had to have this wonderful new facility built,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s a tremendous job to keep it clean and looking new, but it is a labor of love for both of us – love for God and love for this church.

&uot;God led us here and this is where we will stay.&uot;

People like the McDonalds are the reason for the church expanded, McCarter said. He said he had seen a population explosion during the decade he has served the church.

&uot;Currently, we have about 800 people on our rolls,&uot; he said. &uot;We definitely needed to expand our facilities.

&uot;In the existing building, there were only 12 classrooms.&uot;

The church offers worshipers two services each Sunday – one at 8:30 a.m., the other at 11:00 a.m.

The congregation’s generosity and faith in Southside was vital to the construction of the new building, which is being dedicated and celebrated after today’s 11 a.m. worship service.

Through a special &uot;spiritual giving&uot; campaign, the church raised almost half of the $1.2 million needed for the project, McCarter said.

&uot;We did not have to borrow any money until well into the building process, and the money continues to come in from our congregation,&uot; he said.

Statistics show Suffolk is a growing community, and Southside Baptist is hoping to draw many of the newcomers into its church family.

&uot;We are scrambling as hard as we can go to get to the places where people are moving into,&uot; McCarter said. &uot;While we realize that there are many other fine churches in Suffolk, we take the responsibility for those people.

&uot;Serving the needs of the people is our God-given responsibility and we intend to continue to grow our church.&uot;

Even now, Southside is continuing to keep an eye on the future.

The church has purchased four additional acres behind the new building, McCarter said. A good rule of thumb is to plan for one acre per 100 people in the congregation.

Eventually, McCarter said, he envisions a congregation of more than 1,000 at Southside.

&uot;I have a vision for the church, for those who are here and those who may come,&uot; McCarter said. &uot;We need a family life center, more educational and office space, and more worship space.

&uot;We’re running two worship services right now, and we’re praying about it. We’re serving while we’re waiting and we are so happy that our teens have filled the educational building.&uot;

For more information on Southside Baptist Church, call McCarter at 539-6629.