With the Occupy Wall Street movement dominating the news, banks aren’t exactly being recognized for their generosity. But this Saturday at a ribbon cutting ceremony, First Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga., will be saying thank you to Wells Fargo. The bank recently donated a former bank branch building to the church, which is set to be used as a community ministry center.
First Baptist Pastor Randy Shepley told The Christian Post Monday that many in the community “were in shock” over the donation. “The idea that anyone would give something away like that is more than folks can wrap their head around,” he said. But everyone is excited to see the vacant building being used by organizations that will benefit the community.
In 2008, after Wells Fargo bought Wachovia, the bank branch next to First Baptist moved to another location, leaving a vacant building. Soon after, First Baptist Pastor Randy Shepley and Pastor Dave Kivett of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church came up with the idea to purchase and use the building as a place to house local ministry groups and other nonprofit groups in the Tucker area.
After two years, hundreds of emails and phone calls, and conversations between the bank, realtors and First Baptist, a Wachovia contact working with the church told them Wells Fargo had offered to donate the property. And with that, the Tucker Community Center was born.
Those involved with the community center want it to be a place where hurting people can come and get help. But they also want it to be a place where the help is done in the name of Jesus and the Gospel is shared.
Most of the bigger megachurches have set up beyond the Dekalb area in more affluent neighborhoods. But Shepley says there are resources out there. We “can get more done when we do it together,” he said. The new community center will be a way to start providing those resources.
So far, two ministries have set up offices in the former bank: Habitat for Humanity Dekalb County and Networks Cooperative Ministry.
Networks is a group of churches, groups, businesses and individuals that assist in meeting needs in the Northlake-Embry Hills-Tucker area of Atlanta. Dekalb county, a suburb of Atlanta, was hit hard by foreclosures, and many in the community have numerous housing and utility needs.
The Networks organization, comprised of 19 churches, ties directly in to Shepley’s vision of bringing local congregations together. He says the idea behind the bank building was to provide a place with lower rent that Christian organizations can work from.
First Baptist does participate in many of the ministries, but the real idea is to let these organizations use to space to grow their ministries and meet the needs in the community. We “have a good partnership mentality,” said Shepley. “This building is a resource we can throw in.”
The new community center sits in between various First Baptist buildings and is an ideal spot to conduct business from. The church is located on a street corner in the community and Shepley highlighted, “Our job is to go beyond our corner and into the world.”