First Baptist Church has a rich 150 year ministry to the people of Plant City, Florida. Since around 1900 we have been located in the center of this community which we all love. Generations after generations of members have attended, trusted in Christ, been baptized, and served the Lord in this church. We have wrestled, however, with the limitations of our downtown location as far back as the 1970’s.
The Promise Land relocation effort began over ten years ago as our leadership recognized the difficulty of continuing to expand our downtown campus in order to reach a growing population. Extensive residential and commercial development had been forecast.
Our ability to reach a growing population will be determined by our readiness to face the challenges before us. Our church must continue its 150 year ministry to the Plant City community while facilitating the needs of future generations, for as long as the Lord desires.
Our crowded downtown properties consist of eighteen parcels spread over portions of eight blocks, slightly more than seven acres in total. Every contiguous property purchased through the years has come at great cost and added little space for future expansion. We are surrounded by state highways, the railroad, a bank, and Plant City’s Historic District.
Lack of downtown acreage limits nearby parking and prevents us from sustaining any sort of outdoor recreational activities. Construction of additional buildings, whether for educational or recreational use would further restrict parking.
With multiple worship services and Sunday School sessions we are able to accommodate more people than we once did, but this creates other issues. While worship space is sufficient for current needs, narrow halls and stairs severely restrict movement between services.
The Fellowship Hall, with a comfortable seating capacity of approximately 300, is our largest gathering space other than the Worship Center. We need a room two to three times this size to accommodate the needs of our large congregation.
Preschool space is also at a premium as our small ones do not move between worship and Sunday School spaces, but remain in their same rooms all morning. Therefore, multiple services do not help our preschool division.