This article was written by Neal Scoggins, pastor of City of Refuge Community Church and Evangelism Strategist at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
I am sure that this has happened thousands of times in the life of Southern Baptist churches, and even hundreds of times in the life of churches within the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. However, this is OUR first time. On April 13, 2021 history was made in Little Rock. City of Refuge Community Church, a seven-year-old church plant in the inner-city of Little Rock purchased a building owned by Immanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock, a 129-year-old Anglo church.
For the family of City of Refuge this was a major milestone. In our seven-year history, City of Refuge has been in three different locations. But this is the first place that we have ever owned.
Immanuel Baptist initially was a financial partner with City of Refuge that over the years has matured from partnership to close relationship. Here are things that made us family:
- Two members of Immanuel Baptist were regular attendees of the services of City of Refuge and volunteered regularly.
- Various members of the Immanuel membership have volunteered for years in co-hosting, with City of Refuge, a city-wide weekend evangelism event called Impact Little Rock.
- Immanuel partnered with City of Refuge to purchase Bibles for children in Africa.
- City of Refuge has assisted Immanuel in reaching an inner-city community close to the Immanuel campus.
The wonderful thing about this partnership is that we have indeed become kingdom partners…and friends. From the senior pastor at Immanuel (two over the last seven years, Dr. Hollingsworth and Dr. Smith), staff members, even to members of the building facilities staff – they are all our friends.
For me personally, our partnership with Immanuel also has historical significance. More than 40 plus years ago, my dad sang in the pulpit of Immanuel Baptist as a soloist. Who knew that 40 years later, his son would be preaching in their pulpit and eventually his church would own a former Immanuel facility! While my dad passed away 90 days prior to City of Refuge having their first service in this new building, I believe that he is smiling down at us saying “Well done, son…well done.”