Ky. church gives abandoned building to suburban Dayton ministry

Originally published in Western Recorder –

Richmond—In a series of events crossing state lines, Tate’s Creek Baptist Church in Richmond had a hand in helping Harrison Street Baptist Church in New Madison, Ohio, find space to expand their ministry—a stone, early 1900s church building that was going to be torn down.

Businessman Harold Sparks acquired the building of a Methodist church that had shut its doors. A local church had utilized the property for a time, but they relocated, leaving the building vacant again. Not finding anyone to use the property, he was planning to tear it down, saving only the antique stained glass windows.

Then he ran into Jerry Huffman, pastor of Tates Creek Baptist Church. Behind the scenes at Tates Creek, God has been doing “amazing things,” Huffman said.

Huffman recounts story after story over the past few years of God providing needs for the church that they hadn’t even asked for, all stemming from “a new emphasis on the focus of the church”—prayer, he said.

Many of the events included individuals donating money to meet specific, unpublicized needs, Huffman said.

So, he wasn’t surprised when Sparks said, “I think I’ll take the windows and just sell them and tear the building down. But if I could find somebody that would use it for ministry, I’d probably just give it to them.”

“I’ll take it,” Huffman responded, having no idea what he was going to do with the building. Sparks gave him the keys that day.

“Normally, congregations are looking for a place to worship, but this was one event where there was a building looking for a congregation,” Huffman said.

After contacting Ohio Baptist Association, they connected him with Greater Dayton Association of Baptists’ director of missions, Steve Stiglich, who knew of just the congregation for the building.

Harrison Street Baptist Church was interested in expanding their property for more ministry opportunities. This building was located just a few miles from their existing property, so Pastor Kyle Herman met with his DOM and Huffman.

Huffman soon learned that not only was Harrison Street growing, but much of their growth was coming from the area where the church building was located, a short distance from Dayton.

By the end of that meeting, Huffman had passed the keys that he had been given along to Herman.

Although they are considering turning the building into a ministry center, Harrison Street isn’t exactly sure how the building will be used quite yet. There is much work to be done, including the installation of plumbing.

“It’s a smaller building, but God’s got something going on with it just by the way things are moving,” Stiglich commented. “They’re trying to really be sensitive to what God’s doing.”

“Jerry Huffman became a conduit or a connector who did nothing other than seize an opportunity, make some phone calls, and carry a set of church keys from Kentucky to Ohio,” Danny Davis, Tates Creek Baptist Association’s director of missions, reflected. “He became the middleman in what God was doing to convert an abandoned church building into a useful facility for a growing congregation.”

Their story serves to “encourage people to be Kingdom-minded and to keep their eyes open. Everything that comes to us (as individuals or believers) is not about us. It’s about the Kingdom,” Davis continued. (WR)