Mark Schnyder, NBC 5
Sunday marked the official dedication day of the new First Baptist Church of Dallas' $130-million campus addition.
First Baptist Church's founders surely counted on some growth back in 1868, but they likely never imagined anything like this.
Sunday marked the official dedication day of the new First Baptist Church of Dallas' $130-million campus addition. The campus opened before Easter Sunday for services.
"Impressive. Homey. Comforting," says Kevin Stowers who along with his wife, Susan are attending their first service in the new Worship Center.
One of the interior designers, David Holt of The Beck Group, was among the masses heading inside for Sunday morning service. Even he says he's impressed.
"The way we were able to bring the outside of the building into the inside of the building and when you stand on that side of campus and look all away across to that side of campus and know exactly where you are for a campus this big, that's an amazing thing," says Holt.
The church's planning and development committee surprised Pastor Robert Jeffress with news the outdoor focal point, a massive fountain plaza, is now named after him.
"I can't think of a greater honor for me than to have my name associated with the church I've loved all of my life," said Pastor Jeffress to the congregation.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he's glad to see First Baptist Church grow and revitalize like so much of downtown recently.
"I tell you, it's an example of what's happening in Dallas today," says Mayor Rawlings. "People are coming down here and saying 'I can't believe it' and when I look at [the fountain], that's what I think, too."
Both Mayor Rawlings and Governor Rick Perry were on hand to dedicate the new building.
"Let me just add my profound, 'wow', " said Governor Rick Perry from the pulpit. "This is quite a place. This is the way we do it in Texas."
Governor Perry went on to give something of a sermon himself. Then a grateful Pastor Jeffress had a little fun with him.
"I would go ahead and endorse him for 2016, but we saw how that turned out last time," said Jeffress, referring to Perry's bid for the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination. The congregation howled with laughter for a few seconds after that.
The Governor may not have walked away with an endorsement, but the new First Baptist Church campus is getting plenty of them.