In less than a year, the members of Jamestown Baptist Church expect to be worshipping in a new $3 million building on U.S. 701 South, according to building committee chairman Arnold Johnson.

About 50 to 60 members of the Southern Baptist Church got together Sunday after their church service to celebrate the new building that will include a sanctuary, kitchen, youth room and Sunday school classrooms.

Pastor Jamey Collins prayed about the venture and paraphrased two verses of scripture, one found in both Matthew and Luke, quoting Isaiah 56:17, and the other from Psalm 127:1.

“It’s about worship. It’s about prayer. It’s about ministry. If we keep it like that it’s going to succeed,” Collins said.

This is just the first phase of what the church sees in its future. A second phase is planned to include a fellowship hall, playground and perhaps a ball field. The church purchased its 10-acre site planning for future growth. Members began moving forward with the new building about two and one-half or three years ago, according to Johnson.

The existing church, located at 2501 Ninth Ave., isn’t a long way from the new site.

But Johnson and Collins think the new building will give the church better visibility to people passing on U.S. 701 South, an area where they expect to see future growth.

Johnson has been attending the Jamestown church for more than 50 years and says there’s no doubt the church has been and continues to be special to him.

“The people there are just loving and mission-minded,” he said. “They want to help locals or people abroad or in another county or another state.”

Members of the church have traveled to witness and work to meet the physical needs of people in Belize, Canada, Guatemala, Tanzania, and in this country to Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi to name a few.

The church worships every Sunday at 9 a.m. and again at 11 a.m. when the service is a little more traditional. Sunday school is held between the two services. The church typically welcomes 180 to 200 people each week counting those at both services, but Johnson says they have had as many as 250 at times.

The longtime Baptist isn’t sure when building on the new church will begin because they’re still moving through the city’s approval process.

However, he expects building to start in 45 or 60 days. Harrington Construction in Myrtle Beach has been selected as the builder.

Johnson says he thinks the church is doing pretty well moving toward its financial goals for the new building, but that’s not his territory.

Former Horry County treasurer Johnny Allen, who is in charge of fundraising, expects to exceed the $700,000 goal that he’s set for Dec. 31. They have already exceeded the goal he set for Oct. 31.

He said the people of Jamestown Baptist have been very generous.

“I’ve asked them to dig deep and they have really done that,” he said.

The church actually owned the land for more than ten years before the group began its building program.

“We bought this land, I guess 15 years ago and the devil jumped in and stopped us…,” Allen said.

That won’t be the case again.

“You will see Jamestown Baptist surge in the years ahead,” he said, lauding the church’s quality Bible-based preaching and abundantly-loving congregation.

Collins has been the church’s preacher for five years now.

“When they hired me five years ago, they kind of shared that vision that they felt like God had given them 15 years ago, which was ten years ago then. If you know anything about how church works, when good things happen the devil steps in,” he said.

But, he said, “God has blessed us in the last five years. We’ve grown and our finances have been strong and people have been saved, so it looks like we’re finally going to make that jump.”

He said his members constantly surprise him with their generosity, not only in support of the new building, but also for mission programs.

“Since I’ve been here they’ve just given above and beyond any church I’ve been at yet,” Collins said.

Collins said the Ninth Avenue building is meeting the church’s current needs, but parking can be a problem.

Also, he said, “We’re limited in exposure in the amount of people that we can introduce ourselves to. I want to grow the kingdom.”

The current church, plus a lot on Palmetto Street, across from the church, and a large lot shaded with beautiful trees across the street from the church facing Ninth Avenue, are on the market now for a total of $945,000.

“We are excited about the potential. We know the building itself isn’t going to win one person to Christ,” Collins said. “That building isn’t going to minister to the people who are hurting. The people have to do it, but it will give us a great exposure and opportunity.”

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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