First Baptist Dallas implodes buildings to make way for worship center

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by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE

WFAA

Posted on October 30, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 31 at 8:14 PM

DALLAS - It took months of planning and 200 pounds of dynamite to bring down part of First Baptist Dallas church on Saturday.

Pastor Robert Jeffress and Mayor Tom Leppert helped push the button.

A small crowd gathered, as the five buildings came down - the Burt, Christian Education, Ruth Ray Hunt and Veal Buildings, plus an annex.

It was certainly a sight to see.

"It was awesome. You could feel it all through your body," said Frank Stone.

"There's always a little bit of anxiety along the way. That's why it's nice to be able to say everything went well," said mayor Tom Leppert.

It took 20 seconds to implode five buildings at First Baptist Church of Dallas.

"[It] felt like thunder. Everything started shaking and rumbling, the ground started shaking," said Dustin Marvin.

Spectators four blocks from the implosion had their cameras rolling and their ears covered.

"We were ready with our masks but the smoke didn't come this way," said Stone.

One by one, the buildings came crashing down.

"I thought that was really cool. I wish they had given me the button to push it myself," said Britany Johnson.

The 1890 sanctuary at First Baptist Dallas stood silent, protected from the explosions.

"As the implosion went off, I felt like Francis Scott Key in "The Star-Spangled Banner" but instead of looking for the flag, I was looking for the steeple," said Mark Lovvorn, chairman of the planning committee.

And when the dust cleared - it was an amazing sight.

"It's the most amazing sight I've ever seen. The sun was shining on the steeple of our 1890 sanctuary," said pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress.

This pile of rubble will now be transformed into a state-of-the-art worship center pastor Jeffress says will be dedicated to Almighty God.

It will take a month to clean up the entire area around First Baptist Dallas but the sanctuary itself will be open for worship first thing Sunday morning.

First Baptist raised $115 million for its new campus.

The new facility will seat 3,000 people - nearly twice the size of the old facility.

It will have a mile of pews inside.

There will be a new education center, parking garage, gymnasium and a sky bridge to connect the buildings.

The project will completely change the downtown Dallas skyline.

It should be open by Easter Sunday 2013.

E-mail: cizaguirre@wfaa.com

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