Hello, this is Danny Forshee, and I serve as the pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, TX.  These are incredibly exciting and challenging days to be alive and serving the Lord Jesus Christ.  I dearly love our church and what a blessing it is to have a front row seat to watch God work mighty miracles for His glory and our blessing.

In November 2021, we formed the What’s Next Ad Hoc Committee to help plan and dream about the future of GHBC.  This committee, chaired by long-time member Butch Jones, consists of staff, deacons, finance committee, and other at large members. Like every church in America, we are faced with important decisions about the future and how we most effectively minister to those in our community.  One of the driving motivations in forming this committee was to determine how we might leverage the resources we have to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus, plant more churches, and make an even greater impact on our world for Christ.  Jesus’ Great Commission, recorded for us in Matthew 28:19-20, is to make disciples of all nations. That is our marching order as a church.  I want to do all we possibly can to obey our Lord’s mandate.

Our What’s Next Committee held two town hall meetings for our church on October 5th and 9th.  We shared with the church what had been shared with the committee.  Due to several factors that were outlined in detail during those meetings, like the high cost of maintaining our facilities and the harsh effects of Covid, we are looking at the possibilities of selling most if not all our property and physically relocating the campus.  These meetings were well attended, and the church asked excellent questions.  During those sessions, we also discussed the ad-hoc committee’s decision to conduct professional research on our property here at 10500 Jollyville Road. 

I’d like to share with you where we stand as of today, November 22, 2022:

The in-depth research effort continues on our property.  One of our church members, Fred Eppright, is running point on this process.  Fred has been a member of GHBC for over 35 years.  He is a professional land developer who loves the Lord and is committed to helping our church in every way possible. We’re fortunate to have his expertise at this important juncture.

It is imperative that we gather the data necessary to help us understand what we have and what our options could be moving forward.  We are currently in consultation with zoning attorneys and engineers, professionals fully capable of providing this information to GHBC. 

After we have gathered all the pertinent data related to items such as zoning regulations, tree surveys, water issues such as retention ponds, traffic, and a host of other items, we will then consult with density experts and a planner.  Following that work, our leadership will then meet with several potential developers who can provide accurate information regarding potential monetization of all or most of our property at 10500 Jollyville Road.

No decisions have been made to sell any of our land or property.  The church must vote on any decision like that.  If things continue to progress as they are, the What’s Next Ad Hoc Committee envisions bringing a proposal with options to GHBC in late 2023. 

I fully appreciate how this analysis work and the myriad decisions ahead can create uncertainty and may cause anxiety as there is still much that is unknown.  And while none of us on the pastoral staff would seek to cause you undue concern, we felt it was important to remain completely transparent and forthright with the work underway and path ahead so you can be praying with us along this journey. It’s also important to remember that none of this work changes our mandate to reach the world for Christ, make disciples and honor God in everything we do.

All we are doing now is research so we can present the data to our church and make an informed decision regarding how we operate in the future.  To gather the critical data takes resources and time.  Our What’s Next committee is fully supportive of this process.

Some of you may ask what this means for Austin Classical School that meets in Building A.  We have a great relationship with the school.  Their input is important as well.  We have had and will continue to have discussions with ACS throughout this process.  We signed a 13-year lease with the school and are nearing the completion of the 3rd year of the lease.  GHBC will honor our commitment as spelled out in the lease agreement.  We have assured ACS that we will keep them apprised of any possible ownership changes.  They would work with any potential new owner/developer on overall needs and plans if that is the direction the church body ultimately takes.

Will GHBC remain in the 78759 zip code or in this vicinity?  The short answer is a big bold Yes.  Until we have gathered the information we need, GHBC does not have a specific decision for the property at 10500 Jollyville Road.  The potential options before us IF we do anything at all are as follows:

 

  • Sell all the property and either buy or lease a suitable site for a new location in the area. Or,
  • Sell a portion of the property and keep a parcel out of the current 26 acres to build a new, modern facility.

 

The current buildings and sanctuary are simply not what is needed within the context of the culture we live in today.   Austin has changed greatly over the three decades since our current facility was built.

What about planting churches in the Greater Austin Area?  Yes, that is one of our primary goals!  We currently envision building two campuses, one in the 78759 general vicinity and in Liberty Hill where our other church campus, Connect Church, is located.  The goal after that would be to plant more neighborhood churches over the next several years to reach people where they live and work.

If the church members ultimately decide to sell any of the current land, we could also utilize a portion of those potential proceeds to fund Christian ministries all over the world. GHBC has faithfully supported missions for decades and part of these efforts could accelerate that support in a fundamentally dynamic way.

We are so blessed with a great staff, amazing congregation, and a potential financial capacity to help lead a multitude of people to a personal relationship with our awesome Savior.

Thank you for your continued support of our ministry here at GHBC and your prayerful consideration of these future decisions.

If you have questions, please email us at info@ghbc.org.

 

Danny Forshee

Lead Pastor, GHBC

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”