First Baptist Dallas shows off new downtown campus

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 7:04 PM

DALLAS -- The First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas is literally finishing work on its new campus, which will open on Easter Sunday.

And Thursday, News 8 got a sneak peek of what members and visitors will see when the $130-million facility opens.

First Baptist Dallas wanted a "spiritual oasis" downtown, and at 500,000 square feet, it certainly is big.

From the outside, 33,000 stainless steel tiles form a symbolic crown around the Worship Center, as the Fountain Plaza symbolizes the scriptural role of water, according to Senior Pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress.

"This beautiful fountain will be synchronized to go along with hymns of the faith, and it'll be something that not just members of First Baptist Dallas, but all the residents of Dallas can enjoy," he said.

Inside, Jeffress said he's excited about the five-story Horner Family Center, dedicated to children's and youth ministry. With indoor playgrounds and bright classrooms the goal, Jeffress said, is to get children engaged to learn Bible lessons.

"We hired a former imagineer with the Disney Corporation who came and created the most spectacular childrens' area of any church in the world right now," he said.

But the 3,000-seat Worship Center, with its high-definition cameras and 150-foot-wide viewing screen, is the core.

Jeffress said the challenge was to make the center majestic yet intimate.

"This is a very warm, inviting atmosphere," he said. "Worshipers feel like they are part of the experience, rather than spectators at a convention center."

As workers finish out the campus, Jeffress said the opening is a statement of faith in staying put.

"First Baptist Dallas has been a part of downtown Dallas for 145 years," he said. "We're so excited to see the revitalization of downtown."

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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