We are excited to announce that Woodlands Gathering closed on a new worship space in October 2021. (If you’re unfamiliar with Woodlands, these stories explain their unique mission and testimonies from the plant.) With their own building, Woodlands can now meet on Sunday mornings. Pastor Greg Baney says, “It’s encouraging to have people who have been with us for three years, people who we’ve discipled, asking, ‘When are we going to meet for Sunday morning worship?’”
The new building is a tremendous unexpected answer to prayer. “We needed a space, but we hadn’t foreseen how much of a challenge it would become, and we didn’t think we’d be able to buy until further down the road,” says Greg. “As the year progressed, we outgrew my basement, but we couldn’t find a space to meet in Soddy Daisy. Churches weren’t able or willing to partner with us, and the only community center in the area had limited availability and made planning ahead difficult.”
The church has been hosting outreach events and meeting on Sunday afternoons since they started, but to continue growing, they needed to find a physical home. An old church building from 1950 was on the market for the last couple years, but last winter, Woodlands wasn’t in a position to buy. However, the building stayed on the market and the price decreased.
The Tennessee Valley Presbytery connected Woodlands with a family who cares about the mission of church plants. Once the family heard about Woodland’s mission and goal of finding a building, they were invested, agreeing that the 1950s building was well worth the price. With very little credit history, Woodlands was not in a position to take out a loan, so the generous friends stepped up to finance the loan and purchase. Through their help, Woodlands Gathering now has a fixed-rate loan, and the monthly payment is one third of the cost of the cheapest nearby rental space.
The building requires some renovation, so the core group is in the midst of working together to make it their church home. “God has provided a place for us,” says Greg. “Having a physical location has caused our core team to come together even more by taking ownership of the building, serving, and making it their own. We felt ownership before, but we didn’t have a physical place to attach to it.”
A key benefit of the property is the outdoor space. The Baney’s basement, the community center, and the rental options all had limitations when it came to hosting outreach events, but with their own land, Woodlands can invite the community to join together, indoors or outdoors.
Woodlands has several outreach events planned for the coming months, in addition to regular worship together. Events include a concert from a local native american flute player, a four-week Cherokee language course, and a three-week educational series about the story of indiginous native people in America. Greg explains, “Most of our events are outreach focused to natives, but we felt like it was important to bring the general public along with us so they can see the importance of our mission.”
Woodlands is launching a capital campaign in order to pay off the loan as soon as possible and save money in the long run. If you would like to support Woodlands Gathering in this goal, visit woodlandsgathering.org/give.