Farragut Residents Upset Over Church Expansion Plans

(WVLT) - A mega-church raises mega-concerns for nearby neighborhoods. The First Baptist Concord Church in Farragut has planned a multi-million dollar expansion. But neighbors worry it could bring more traffic problems and headaches along with it's Christian message.

It's hard to miss on Kingston Pike.

"Obviously we're a large church," Dale Collins says.

Nearly 42 acres...8 buildings...and more than 8000 members large.

"And that often raises concern," Collins continues.

Especially now...when the First Baptist Concord in Farragut wants to kick it up a notch.

"Over the last 15 years we've quadrupled in membership and attendance. The problem is we haven't built educational space in over 27 years," Collins says.

And a planned 37.5 million dollar....two-phase... expansion could change that. The first phase would tack on three buildings. The first building...a student place.

"That house our middle school and high school students," Collins says.

The second...a preschool place.

"That houses babies all the way through the fifth grade," Collins says.

And last...a central gathering place.

"That has to do with fellowship," Collins continues.

Also included...new parking and possible athletics facilities.

Here's the catch. The church also want's to re-route this road, Bellaire Drive as part of the plan. But it's the neighbors only way in and out.

"This just shows a total lack of concern for the Bellaire Community and our needs," Jeanne Brykalski says.

Jeanne Brykalski lives in the next-door subdivision.

"We are not opposed to the church growing. Churches need to grow, that is part of their commitment and covenant to God, but the way they go about it differs whether they are respecting God or using His name to what they want," she continues.

More than 100 homeowners packed Farragut Town Hall to let loose about the plan.

Their biggest concerns: traffic problems and they feel they've been ignored.

"We found out strictly through accident. We found out through the Glen Abbey Homeowners Association," Brykalski says.

But the church says it's always tried to be a good neighbor.

"I think it's a normal fear...that people are going to be steamrolled, but I can tell you that's not our intent," Collins says.

Neighbors hope it keeps that promise.

The town of Farragut has to approve any expansion plans. The church has presented them some options, but nothing's gotten the final thumbs up. The church plans to hold a meeting with nearby neighborhoods on Monday, July 23rd. The church says they'll put fliers in your mailbox with the exact time and location of that meeting.

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  • by go Location: fbc on Jul 17, 2007 at 10:34 AM
    First baptist Concord is the most community minded church I have ever known. By community I mean local as well as international. The plan that has been presnted will also result in the demolition of 4 current buildiungs that are old and in bad condition. So the church is not really expanding. It is an upgrade. And who are we to think we know how Jesus would do things? He preached to and then fed 5000...did the neighbors complain?? Yes...He was followed around by a lot of negative nay sayers most of his ministry. Pretty much everywhere he went there were pharisees watching and complaining. Peter and the apostles were persecuted in Acts 5 for preaching and teaching in Jesus name. One of the pharisees then named Gamaliel said that even if they put them to death that if what they were doing was of human origin then it would fail...but that if it was of God that there was nothing they could do to stop it. We fight the same battles today. As far as using a basketball to reach people and tell them about Jesus...Whats wrong with that? So you are saying that it is better for the church to take a loaf of bread and feed the hungry and tell them about jesus than it is to use a basketball to gather families together and tell them about Jesus? I don't really follow that logic. There is no difference in my opinion. Maybe the church should take the bellaire property that it owns and build habitat for humanity homes on it and bring in those less fortunate that can not afford a home and let them live there. Of course then the likes of Jeanne Brykalski would probably raise an uproar about that too because the folks living in those homes would likely not be like her.
  • by Mickey Location: Farragut on Jul 13, 2007 at 07:17 PM
    It seems that, for the most part, the comments displayed here have been off message. The problem is a "mega" church expanding in a residential area. I'm sure the church has good intentions but these intentions come with dire consequences for the surrounding community. At present traffic is a major problem on Sunday mornings for residents of the neighborhoods near this church. Expansion of the church school, building a sports complex, and increasing the church membership by 50% will compound the traffic problem in this area plus turn it into a seven days a week nightmare. Add to that the noise and lights associated with sports events and what were once tranquil residential neighborhoods are transformed into public venues. Imagine living next door to Neyland Stadium or Smokies Park on game day/night. I hope the church will take a long look at what they are doing to their neighbors and do the right thing, find a location that is away from neighborhoods where they have plenty of space to grow and provide a nurturing environment for their members and others.
  • by Jeanne Location: Bellaire Community on Jul 12, 2007 at 07:11 PM
    Belleaire is the oldest subdivison in Farragut. It was there over 20 years before the church was. This is not one the "large" or "rich" subdivisions. And that shouldn't matter anyway. The residents of the Bellaire community do not oppose the FBC doing God's work, and no one has ever said that they do not give back to the community. HOWEVER, they have NOT been good neighbors to the adjacent neighborhoods. There is already considerable problems with traffic, noise, and promises from the church that have not been kept. And no, we would not be any happier if it was a multi million dollar mall tearing down houses and taking away our only road in and out. Do you want to live next to a parking lot? DO you want to live next to an athletic field? Do you want commercial industrial style buildings taking over your green space and be what you look out you window at every morning? Most people who live in the Farragut Concord Area are normal working people who live in normal size houses and make normal wages. Our homes are supposed to be our haven from the rest of the world, a safe place to raise and enjoy our families, and not have to "fight" a large wealthy organization who does not respect us.
  • by Martha Location: Knoxville on Jul 12, 2007 at 10:06 AM
    If you haven't been to one of these churches and don't know what their budgets are and how the money is spent, You shouldn't assume they are not doing good things with the money. Churches do not get tax free loans.The money for new buildings comes mainly from the membership. This is not the only way they spend their money. This particular church give hundreds of thousand each year to missions and programs feeding the homeless and poor, especially in Appalacia. They sent members on over 40 mission trips both domestically and internationally in 2006. They also provide disaster relief and disaster relief training. Partnerships are formed with churches in other states and countries where ministry is needed. Those churches are often funded through large churches. There are recreational facilities, but they are not only available to church members. Community sports leagues use those facilities as well. As far as the comment about 2-3 hundred thousand dollar salaries. No one at this church or any other church in Knoxville makes anywhere close to that kind of money. Church work and mission work is hard, tiring, often thankless, always criticized unfairly. If you want to see how churches spend their money, ask them. They budgets and expenses aren't secret to members or visitors. Don't make assumptions without the facts.
  • by james Location: knoxville on Jul 11, 2007 at 10:39 PM
    i often wonder what god would think if he came to any school in knox and saw he was no longer welcomed.i would much rather see multi-million dollar churches going up that muti- million dollar homes and malls
  • by terry Location: anderson county on Jul 11, 2007 at 07:05 PM
    well im sure if this was an upcale mall sellin gucci bags and designer clothing im sure the well do to residents of farragut would be all for it ..
  • by Elizabeth Location: Knoxville, TN on Jul 11, 2007 at 09:10 AM
    I have often wondered when I drive by these big multi-million dollar churches, what would God have thought. On Kingston Pike alone I have counted 4 that have been build just the past two years. I wonder where all this money is coming from to build these elaborate churches. I would say, it must be these government tax free loans. I don't think God intended his name or his church to be used as a recreational facility. Churches have become a place to eat supper and gather and play a little basketball. I wonder if God would want all these millions of dollars spent on a fancy building or would he prefer that the money be used to help the poor or homeless. Seems like I have never read in the Bible where that Jesus had to have a big million dollar church to preach in, nor did he require a salary of 2 or 300,000 dollars a year. These big churches should get back to the basics and start thinking about what Jesus would do!


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