Church planter Cliff Jordan remembers the day when the church was just six people gathered in his living room committed to Christ and to each other, living out Gospel community. Eventually, they gathered in a park and later began to gather on Sunday nights at a local church in Richmond, VA. Desiring to transition to Sunday morning services, Movement Church moved to a rented building, where it grew to two services and were reaching capacity. “We had hit a plateau and couldn’t reach many more people logistically,” says Jordan. But it’s never been about buildings for Movement Church—a building is only a place to “house the vision” God has given. So what do you do when the vision runs out of space?
Jordan prayed and asked around about potential buildings in the immediate area where God had called them to be. Purchasing property in the vicinity would have been expensive, and few properties were available. Jordan was put in touch with Pastor Bill Nieporte of Patterson Avenue Baptist Church (BGAV). Nieporte told him, “Cliff, last Sunday we had a meeting and we knew that we had to do something drastic, and then you called.” As the two pastors began to meet and pray together, God began to solidify to Nieporte and the members of Patterson Avenue Baptist Church that they were to offer the building free of charge to Movement Church. By God’s providence, Patterson Avenue Baptist Church is only 1.4 miles away from where Movement had been meeting.
Why would a church give its building away for free?
One reason—to leave a legacy—to pass along to future generations something of great significance. Leaving a legacy should be the hope of every church. “Patterson Avenue’s members wanted their building to continue as a Gospel center and bring life change in this community for years to come,” says Jordan. “So they made some hard decisions to make that happen.”
The one-year process began with multiple conversations, including town hall meetings with the current members of Patterson Avenue, where Jordan was able to answer questions from the congregation. At Movement Church, there was a partners meeting to discuss the possibility of moving. There was a time of prayer and fasting, a time of Q&A, and a vote. Needless to say, the partners at Movement were ecstatic about this new location and were convinced God had granted favor for Movement to provide more than enough space to “house the vision.”
“The Sunday morning service on August 20, 2017 was the last for Patterson Avenue Baptist Church, formed in 1989 from the merger of churches with longer legacies—Park View Baptist Church, dating to 1891, and Calvary Baptist Church, dating to 1877. After delivering the morning sermon, Nieporte symbolically handed a key to the church to Ken Sorrell, associate pastor of Movement Church.” (Jordan was away on a mission trip that had been planned far in advance.) “‘It’s got the dust of our ancestors on it,’ Nieporte said as he gave the key to Sorrell. ‘Take good care of it.’”(1)
Movement Church held its first worship service in this historic Richmond church on April 22, 2018 and held a grand opening on May 6 with over 350 people attending. Pastor Jordan is grateful the church can gather in one service again and have the space to reach more people for Christ. “It’s going to be energizing!”
1 “Church disbands, donates building to younger congregation,” Tammie Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 20, 2017.