ABILENE, Texas - The University Baptist Church off of Ambler Avenue and Grape Street has had a 'For Sale' sign in front of it for almost two months now.
The property hasn't been used by UBC since February, but the church is now advertising the sale to look for more buyers. Pastor Kevin Peters says that the church almost had to close its doors back in 2009 when he first arrived because of financial issues with taking care of the building.
"At that time, it was really tough because we were almost to the point of closing our doors," said Peters.
By 2013, Peters, along with leaders from the Baptist Convention, contractors, and additional leaders from the church sat down to evaluate the property costs and what they needed to focus on more.
"We've looked at our budgets and said, how do we maximize this budget?" said Peters. "This money that God's people have to the church for ministry. How do we maximize that to where we're putting every dollar we can into ministry."
The ground square footage, which does not include the additional floors above the ground, is 77,000 square feet. When Peters spoke with a contractor, they said that in order to renovate the property and meet all code requirements, it would require about $85 per square foot. This would mean over $6.5 million dollars, which the church did not have.
Although the church may look not well-kept, Peters said that they have had difficulties getting their lawn company to come out to mow. He also said that it would be a better financial decision to tear down the buildings, rather than spending the money on renovations. The history of the buildings goes back to before 1920. The oldest building on the property was built back in 1917 and newest was built in 1964.
The church jump-started a new church called Radiant Life that began meeting at the Civic Center back on February 16 of this year. Peters said the church continues to grow and he is excited about the future.
"God has done so much," said Peters. "We were averaging about 100 members here at University Baptist Church. Since we launched Radiant Life, we are close to 200 every single week."
Peters said they had an attendance of 242 people a few weeks ago when they had their baptismal celebration. He said they additionally have a group of volunteers that set up the Civic Center weekly with chairs, along with lights and a stage. He said the team is around five to six people and it takes them about an hour to set up around 7 a.m. and then about 30 to 40 minutes to tear down, with the help of members of the congregation.
Peters said he is excited for the future and hopes that the church can eventually move into its own building once the old property is sold.
"It has been an incredible journey with Radiant Life Church," said Peters. "We've seen 30-something people give their life or commit their life to Christ, 13 follow the Lord in what we call a water baptism. Its just been amazing to see all that God's done."
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