Recently an e-mail circulated that Garden Oaks Baptist Church was selling the parking lot across the street from the church at 3206 N Shepherd Drive – along with its main sanctuary. Not so, said Deacon and member Jim Coit, who set the record straight for The Leader.
He said that a long range planning committee is at the beginning of a process to determine “who we need to be and how we can best meet the needs of our community” and that while a sale of some church properties may be a part of the conclusion of the committee, there is nothing on the horizon.
For now the parking lot is maintained by Chase as part of a 10-year easement lease – an arrangement that has worked out quite well for the church who utilizes the lot during weddings and funerals.
Coit did say that there are “no sacred cows”- but he reiterated that the church, which has seen a drop in membership over the last 10 years as the demographics of the neighborhood have changed, would continue to exist and to find ways to meet the needs of the community.
“We are a growing body with new people of varying ethnicities and demographics,” said Coit. The church’s population consists of long term senior parishioners as well, who are strong part of the mix.
Coit also wanted to clarify something else that the e-mail stated – that the church did not own its “far north building” or the original worship space.
“We own all our property,” said Coit, noting that for the past 10 years they have leased the north building to Serenity Retreat, a Christian Prayer Ministry. They utilize the original worship building as a Youth Center and also lease space there to the Shepherd’s Field Baptist Church who was in need of worship space.
The church is getting accustomed to fielding interest from realtors, and it will no doubt get plenty more as Shepherd Drive continues to develop. Just south of the church lies the strip that houses Pink’s Pizza and Shepherd Park Drought house. To the west, construction on the new Starbucks is underway. And there was a frenzy about that leaked Weingarten Realty proposal to redevelop the Sears.
“It’s a changing area,” Coit said. “Garden Oaks Baptist Church is keeping pace with community change and will be here for quite some time.”