When Fondren Church took over Woodland Hills Baptist Church earlier this year, leaders wondered how they could use the facility to not only serve members but reach out to the community and change lives.
To that end, the church is now working to transform an old gymnasium on the campus into a community center.
The work is being funded by the “Love Gives” campaign, which was launched recently.
So far, the church has already replaced the gym’s roof and is now working on replacing the gym floor.
The purpose of the renovations is to create a space that could be used free of charge by nonprofits, neighborhoods and other entities in the Fondren community.
“(We want to) open the doors, open the space in here to fulfill a whole number of community needs – recreation, nutrition, empowerment, education,” Connections Minister Moriah Carver said in a video launching Love Gives.
“We don’t need it for worship anymore, so we dreamed of what could be done,” said Communications Director Daniel Hicks.
Hicks said the facility would be ideal to provide after-school programs, such as the kind provided by the Red Door Jackson program.
Fondren Church is already partnering with that nonprofit, which provides tutoring and mentoring to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Every Tuesday, 48 students come here for afterschool tutoring and meals,” Hicks said.
The space would also be made available for neighborhood groups and nonprofits.
In addition to the gymnasium itself, the two-story facility also houses some office and classroom space.
“We want to have free meeting space. We even want to see nonprofit working space,” he said. “We have talked to our nonprofit working partners, some of whom would love space where they could use a computer and have a printer.”
The church hopes to begin making the facility available next spring, but that depends on how quickly remaining renovations are completed.
The gym floor has taken longer than expected, in part, because the building had settled and portions of it needed to be leveled out, Hicks explained.
Fondren Church took over Woodland Hills in May, after members of Woodland Hills Baptist decided to dissolve the church in light of a dwindling membership.
Previously, Fondren Church had been meeting in the gym, while Woodland Hill’s more traditional services were held in the sanctuary.
Fondren Church draws about 600 people on Sunday morning.