Genesis Baptist: 10 years of growth
By Mark Wineka
CHINA GROVE — Back in 2001, Genesis Baptist Church started with 39 people — a small, but resilient group meeting Sundays at the Town House restaurant in Kannapolis.
Now the church has 512 congregants and tomorrow, on Palm Sunday, they will conduct their first service in a new 639-seat sanctuary, the result of a $1.4 million building project.
How did Genesis Baptist enjoy such phenomenal growth and success in less than a decade?
“We just got to say it’s the Lord,” the Rev. Gene Edwards says.
Diane Barnette, head of the social committee, also likes to give some credit to the church’s leader, Pastor Edwards, and the dogged spirit of congregation.
“We do have an exceptional preacher,” she says. “He’s one who believes in taking care of his people.”
Those people — the Genesis Baptist Church congregation — already have paid for the new pews, 15 stained-glass windows and hymnals through various dedications to loved ones.
Edwards says the church’s goal is to have the new building — twice the size of its formal sanctuary — paid for in five years. Judging from the congregation’s past history, he has reason to believe it will make that goal.
The church is located at the corner of Old Concord and Scercy roads, about a mile south of N.C. 152.
Other elements in this $1.4 million project include a pastor’s office, a spacious vestibule, more restrooms and a new nursery, which has a one-way window looking into the sanctuary, making the caregivers feel as though they are part of the service.
The altar area provides room for a 100-member choir, plenty of musical equipment and a modern baptistery. A state-of-the-art sound system also has been installed.
The predominant color is blue with handsome wood finishes on the pews and other furnishings. Candy Bass, a “worker bee” who watched the project evolve since the ground-breaking last year, says she loves everything about the finished product.
“It’s not for our glory but his,” Barnette adds, “but we can’t help but be proud.”
Outside, the new building provides a portico at the front entrance, allowing vehicles to drive up and drop people off under a wide cover.
The project also added 156 parking spaces. The new brick-and-stone addition blends perfectly with the older building, which was part of an $850,000 project in 2004. Edwards boasts that his congregation paid off that construction loan in only a few years.
The former sanctuary was the place to worship, a fellowship center and Sunday School venue — all in one.
As the congregation grew and Sunday and Wednesday services became more crowded, extra chairs had to be placed at the ends of aisles and into the hallways.
With the new building on line, the old sanctuary still will provide space for Sunday School and as a fellowship center.
People who have been with the church since its 2001 beginning remember meeting in the Kannapolis restaurant, then a one-room country church behind Pethel’s car lot in Kannapolis.
“It just started picking up and picking up,” Edwards says of membership and attendance.
The first church building at Genesis’ present location came after the congregation bought 3 acres, followed later by a purchase of 22 additional acres, a sliver of which was used for the new building. Members like the location, central to those who come from Kannapolis, Concord, Salisbury and China Grove.
McCorkle Construction of Monroe served as general contractor for the new sanctuary. On the church side, Jerry Murph and Jerry Mills led the building committee. Patti Mills, Denise Hayes, Trudy Duke and Cynthia Overcash headed the decorating committee.
Edwards represents a one-man staff for the church, which has a strong youth program. He has been in the ministry 34 years, including more than two decades at Lane Street Baptist Church in Kannapolis.
Barnette says, “Our motto is, ‘The church that loves people.’”
Edwards did not want the congregation to pay for the new sanctuary through countless yard sales and bake sales, Barnette says.
“God is just providing the money for us through our people,” she says.
At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the church will mark the opening of the new sanctuary by cutting a ribbon and launching balloons before heading inside for the 11 a.m. service.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.