DALLAS - Dr. Robert Jeffress is a proud pastor these days, as a $130 million dream is one year from becoming reality.
"This Sunday marks the 52-Sunday countdown until we open, on Easter Sunday 2013," Jeffress said. "In fact, in every service this Sunday we're going to have the countdown clock and reveal a page showing 52 Sundays, then we'll rip [it] off and show 51."
Jeffress is beginning to see his vision take shape, and he couldn't stop smiling as he stood on the sky bridge connecting a massive education building to an even more massive worship center.
Inside there will be what's equivalent to a mile of pews, and enough electrical wiring to stretch from Dallas to Austin.
"We are right now going over St. Paul Street," he said explaining the location of the sky bridge. "It's a major artery into downtown Dallas, and this is a whole new gateway, really, into downtown."
The entire structure is being wrapped in glass, from wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor.
"One of my dreams for our new facility was to have glass everywhere, reflecting the majesty of God," Jeffress said. "People can look in and see the life and vitality of our church. And people in the church can look out and know exactly where they are and exactly where they are going."
The sanctuary is on the second floor of the worship center, meaning the congregation will always rise up to worship. Jeffress pointed out where a video board as wide as an airport runway will stretch across the top of the room.
First Baptist raised $130 million in the midst of an awful economic crisis. And Jeffress knows some in Dallas question spending so much money on a building.
But he doesn't.
"It's my conviction that the finest structure in the heart of a city shouldn't be a temple to the God of business, or pleasure, or entertainment," he said. "It ought to be a worship center that magnifies God, and we're happy to be a part of what's happening in Dallas."
A new parking structure opens in six weeks, and the entire facility will be open and dedicated March 31, 2013.