A story today in the local Nashville newspaper, the Tennessean, describes the progress we're making toward a genuinely unique conception of church and community.
The vision of a parish model has meant that at Parish Presbyterian Church we have deliberately attempted a “deep and slow” Gospel work. No razzle-dazzle. No hoopla. No blitzkrieg of programming. Just in-depth Bible teaching, worship marked by reverence and awe, intentionality in both community and outreach, a focus on covenantal succession among our children, a heart for growth through church-planting rather than mere church-expansion, and purposeful mission to our city and our world. It is has been a distinctive vision right from the start--what will be over the years, we pray, an authentic Kingdom vision. It hasn’t always been deep and slow (it really, really hasn’t been slow), but our distinctiveness remains a vibrant and dynamic aspect of what it is the Lord is doing in our midst.
That distinctiveness has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives together--including the way we have thought about facilities, buildings, and property. Meeting in the beautiful and historic downtown chapel of Christ Community Church has been absolutely wonderful--even though we have already outgrown it. Indeed, the chapel has shaped many of our expectations and assumptions as we have sought a permanent home for the congregation. We have wanted something that reinforces our theology of covenant community, that reinforces our commitment to Franklin and it heritage, and that rooted us in a neighborhood rather than just placing us on some sort of a sprawling campus.
Our property search committee looked at more than a hundred existing buildings and undeveloped plots of land throughout the Franklin area. We were willing to think outside the box in order to hold steadfastly to our vision. Alas, opportunities to actually be woven into the fabric of an existing neighborhood were scarce to none. It began to look as if we would have to settle for something other than a community-based plan.
Then, we found a piece of property just over a mile from the downtown square. The 23 acres was far more than what we were looking for, but the price was tens of thousands of dollars less than the other things we were seeing on the market--and the property is flat, build-able, and within walking-distance of a myriad of parks and communities where our folks live and work and play. What to do?
We think we have come up with a very creative and extraordinarily satisfying solution--providing an unprecedented opportunity for our congregation and a remarkable platform for our future church-planting work. We have partnered with a builder and a developer to design a new community with our little church right in the heart of it. It will provide for Middle Tennessee the very first LEED-certified “green” development. And it will satisfy our desire to have a genuine parish that will be a blessing to our neighbors--with lots of open parks, village greens, running-biking-walking trails, and community gathering spaces. Of course, there will also be ample facilities we'll be able to share with our ministry partners, coops, schools, and missions.
We are praying that this exciting vision, as it comes to fruition, might be able to have a wide-ranging impact on Franklin, on the church-planting movement in the PCA, and on our world.