Led to expand: One year into the effort, a look back at how Eden Westside’s River Campus began – Article published in the St. Clair News-Aegis December 3, 2015.

View article published in the St. Clair News-Aegis

Led to expand: One year into the effort, a look back at how Eden Westside's River Campus began. Pastor Jacky Connell with Eden Westside Baptist Church
Pastor Jacky Connell with Eden Westside Baptist Church in Pell City was not looking to expand to a second campus, but one year ago God had another idea.

How Eden Westside’s River Campus Began

Sometimes, we think those Bible stories that we are taught about how God worked in the Old and New Testament are not relevant. Most of us believe that the Bible is true and we think that God worked in mighty ways back then, but we don’t always have a grasp on how God continues to work today in our modern culture.

A little church in Leeds on Highway 78, just past the Outlet Shops of Grand River, had been closed and empty for 18 months when a Leeds resident purchased the church property at auction because he couldn’t bear to see the church gone or used for something other than what it was intended.

He and a friend began praying about what to do with the church because he had no interest in owning a church, he just felt called to purchase the property. The two men felt led to Brother Jacky Connell. They met on Nov. 14, 2014 and approached him to become the pastor of the little church.

Brother Jacky did not feel God’s calling to leave Eden Westside Baptist Church and presented other options to help them, none of which involved Brother Jacky or Eden Westside Baptist Church, but the two men persisted.

Brother Jacky and a couple of church deacons began praying with these two men when the idea was presented to begin a second church campus utilizing live streaming as other churches are now doing to enable a single pastor to lead multiple church campuses with help of onsite campus leaders.

Subsequent meetings with the entire deacon body and church staff about what had transpired resulted in everyone voting unanimously that God was all over this plan. On Dec. 10, 2014, Brother Jacky, a group of church leaders and staff along with these two men were present to sign the agreement and plans moved forward to get the Eden Westside River Campus ready to open.

There was so much work to be done in such a short time (less than a month), especially, with timeline including Christmas holidays. Eden Westside’s missions and maintenance ministers along with church volunteers poured themselves into the renovation which included painting inside and out wherever needed, cleaning up the campus inside and out and freshening up everything. They worked throughout the holidays to enable opening for the first time in eighteen months on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 22, 2014 of Christmas week, Brother Jacky and church leaders visited the new River Campus, prayed and dedicated this church campus to the Lord.

The Eden Westside Baptist Church vision for this new River Campus was that the second campus was definitely not a separate church, but an extension of their main church campus and the River Campus members have embraced this concept: one church – two locations.

A team of church leaders and members from the Pell City Campus currently provide River Campus workers and teachers each week for Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night activities.

It is truly amazing when God does something that we cannot even imagine and invites us to join in where He is working. Eden Westside’s vision for the future is for God to grow the church and reach people for Jesus.

Next week, follow Dona as she looks at the now and the next for Eden Westside Baptist’s River Campus.

The main campus is located at 223 Wolf Creek Road North in Pell City and the River Campus is located at 1441 W. Riverview Road on Highway 78. For more information about Eden Westside Baptist Church, their church campuses and ministry opportunities, please visit their website at edenwestside.org.