First Baptist Dallas unveils new, $130-million campus for Easter service

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by SHON GABLES

WFAA

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 31 at 10:30 PM

DALLAS -- Even with a sacred Easter service at First Baptist Dallas, it was hard to ignore the "wow" factor of the new sanctuary.

Six-year-old AnaLee was impressed, "I really like it."

For the first time, some of its 11,000 parishoners worshipped inside the church's massive new 3,000-seat sanctuary, which features an improved sound system and a 150-foot IMAX-quality screen.

Tim Duncan said for a church 145 years old, it's definitely modern.

"People think that maybe everybody there is 150 years old, but there's a huge young population here," he said.

Savannah Duncan, 15, believes the renovations set the standard for what all churches should look like.

"Not only is it new and modern, I think it better reflects the majesty -- the majesty of God," she said.

Back in 2010, a record $130 million was raised to tear down five of the church's older buildings for the new construction.

Today, it boasts three-quarters of an acre of greenspace, a new five-story family center, a new parking garage, a glass bridge, and a new water fountain. The only original building spared was its historic sanctuary (which is currently under renovation), just blocks away from the rebirth of downtown Dallas and Kylde Warren Park.

Pastor Robert Jeffress said he's happy about the revitalization of downtown, with the arts center and the park, and believes that part of that revitalization should be spiritual.

"We're so happy that First Dallas has stayed here," Jeffress said. "I think every member of First Baptist Dallas today would say 'to God be the glory for great things He has done.'"

First Baptist Dallas' new campus will also include a new lunch spot, open during the week for professionals to rest and relax near the water fountain during the day.

E-mail sgables@wfaa.com

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