Southern Hills Christian Church is a growing church with average attendance of 1,100 on Sundays and boasts a vibrant ministry. But there was a problem. During the week, between scheduled activities, the church campus is dark.
Not in a spiritual way, but in use, says Shannon Lovelady, lead pastor. The parking lot is a vast sea of nothingness and buildings are empty except for a few administrative staff members who occupy a tiny percentage of the complex’s real estate. Located on Highway 113 outside the Carrollton city limits, Southern Hills isn’t conducive to providing a broader ministry with its current site. These obstacles, plus the desire to broaden its ministry in general, led to a bold plan of relocation, reuse and repurpose. The concept – and soon reality – of City Station was born.
Lovelady said City Station, currently under construction next to the Maple Street Commons shopping center, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. It will include a full-regulation basketball court that can be converted to a large auditorium for Southern Hills’ three Sunday morning services, a low-cost fitness center opened to the community, a healthy and affordable restaurant called the Mustard Seed Cafe, an extended-day preschool and college student housing.
The student housing – called covenant housing – will be unique in this area, said Lovelady. This means the 60 students who will live there will sign a covenant to live a Christian lifestyle and go through a discipleship process. Southern Hills is partnering with Christian campus outreach at the University of West Georgia, which is strategically located just down the road off the Carrollton Greenbelt on Maple Street.
“Statistics show 70 percent of college students walk away from their faith,” said Lovelady. “What about instead we create an environment where they can grow stronger in their faith while they are in college?”
Lovelady said once City Station is debt free, Southern Hills will generate an anticipated annual income of $300,000 to put back into the community. To learn more about City Station, visit http://www.citystation.org.