When a small church off U.S. 460 began welcoming parishioners to its parking lot last year instead of filling the pews, it inspired a generous donation that will allow the church to expand significantly.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, members of Rock Pike Baptist Church — located behind Owen’s Market with a congregation of less than 100 people — came by the carload each Sunday to hear the word of God from Pastor John Sines.
“We continued to be faithful even when we couldn’t get in the building,” Pastor John Sines said. “We wanted to honor the rule of law but we also wanted to honor God.”
He said it was tough sometimes keeping members hopeful and faithful when they were looking at their windshield wipers listening to a sermon, but Sines said God rewarded their faithfulness with a new opportunity.
Linda Dobyns, whose husband, Terry, owned a 30-acre lot adjacent to the church, was watching.
Dobyns said during COVID-19, she was unable to attend her own church so she went to a parking lot service held by Sines.
“I just liked the way he came across with his message; he breaks it down so good and he’s just a good person,” she said.
After the service, she went back to her husband and told him he should consider donating the land to the church. She knew the church was at capacity and could only hold 99 members.
“He can do more good in the community and saving people than those cows up there in that field,” she said.
She said her husband is a very generous man who gives behind the scenes and never wants credit for anything.
In December, Terry Dobyns donated the land, which is appraised at $707,500, to the church so it can expand its services this year and build a new activity center.
The church has decided to name the new activity center, which will be built on the donated land, after the Dobynses.
Preliminary plans are already underway for future expansion, which will be built in phases and will include a fellowship hall, youth activities, a place to host community meals and later on down the road, build a new sanctuary, Sines said.
Associate Pastor Allen Campbell said the donation will allow the church to help expand its ability to help more people in the community.
“We will have more room to not only seat more people, we will be able to help in many more ways a larger food pantry, to help feed needy families,” he said.
Sines said any activities outside of worship would have to be held in a rented space outside the church.
“We’ve heard all kinds of negative stuff this year, from the election to social issues to the Coronavirus, just everything,” he said. “Everything is so upside down. I want it to be a beacon of good news to say, hey, look, you remain faithful during an uncertain time and God has a way of bringing you to where he needs you.”
Campbell said his hope for the new building is that it will be able to touch more families in the community.
“I am just so thankful for all that God is doing at our little church,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us as we grow.”