Springfield Baptist to acquire Church In The Now campus

CONYERS -- A local church founded more than 130 years ago has announced it will acquire the former Church In The Now campus on Iris Drive.

Springfield Baptist announced Monday that its congregation will be in the new facility in time to hold Resurrection Sunday services on Easter on the 43-acre campus. Services are scheduled for 7:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 8. The services are open to the public.

The transaction between Springfield Baptist and Evangelical Christian Credit Union will take the form of a lease-purchase agreement, according to the church. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Associate Minister Arthur Mitchell said the acquisition was announced to members of the congregation at church services on Sunday and received a positive reaction.

Springfield, which was founded by slaves in 1879 on the banks of the Yellow River and serves the Rockdale and Newton communities, is currently located on Old Salem Road. Mitchell said the church has a membership of slightly more than 3,000.

Springfield Baptist also operates Springfield Baptist Academy at its church facility on Old Salem. Mitchell the school has an enrollment of about 95 children. That operation will also move to the Iris Drive campus, with a tentative opening date of June 4.

Mitchell said the church plans to sell its property on Old Salem Road.

Church In The Now, once the largest church in Rockdale County, went into foreclosure in 2011.

The church property, buildings and 43 acres were put up for sale on the courthouse steps on April 5. The starting bid was $18.8 million. There were no takers, so the property reverted back to the mortgage holder, Evangelical Christian Credit Union.

The foreclosure followed a difficult year for the church. Many members were affected by the subprime mortgage crisis and church support dropped. In October 2010, CITN Pastor Jim Swilley announced to his church that he was gay. Swilley said it was hard to lose the building, but he remained optimistic about the future of his ministry.

CITN continues to hold services there in one of the smaller buildings. Renamed Church In the Now East, the Conyers congregation is part of a reformed Church In The Now ministry. It was unclear Monday if Church In the Now East would continue to hold services on Iris Drive.