Twelve years ago, New Birth Community Church did not even exist.
But pastor and founder Jonathan Tucker had a vision.
He was able to start his church and move into a small building on Clark Street just east of the old Irwin B. Schwabe shirt factory.
His vision went beyond that, however, and this Sunday will see that vision fulfilled as New Birth Community Church has an open house in its new quarters – that same former shirt factory building across from the old church.
Starting with only 35 members, the church has grown to more than 300, much too large for the old church building.
As it became obvious that the congregation was going to outgrow the old church, they looked into constructing a new building. Pastor Tucker said they owned three quarters of the block the old church is on, but that city codes and setbacks are just too restrictive for them to have built what they needed.
“We wanted to stay in the city and started looking for property,” Tucker said earlier this year. “Then this (the old shirt factory) became available.”
He said they had been hoping they could get the building for some time, trying to hold out, but it had appeared that would not happen. Finally, owner Larry Roberts was willing to sell.
“We got it for $100,000,” Tucker said.
Now, after serving as a workplace for the community for so many years, it would be able to serve the community in a new way.
Even as much as the church has grown, converting the large plant would be a daunting task, but volunteer help began to show up in many ways – particularly from others in the Union County Baptist Association of which New Birth is a member. Tucker likened it to other mission work but without having to travel nearly halfway around the world to do so.
The old building was gutted, interior walls have been added, new wiring, plumbing and heating and air added, the outside has been renovated and other improvements have been made.
Now, the new church has a central sanctuary that will seat about 500. Also in the building are 21 classrooms and an administration suite. Outside, they kept the concrete slab where the former warehouse was on the north side of the building, fenced part of it in and may use it for a variety of purposes.
“And we’re going to keep the old church property,” Tucker added. “We want to put a day care center there.”
Work on the building started Feb. 22 and the open house will be this Sunday, Aug. 24, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The church is at 614 Glade, at the corner of Clark Street.
“It’s going to help the neighborhood a lot,” Tucker said during the renovation. “I am very excited.”