TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Car dealerships are closing and hundreds of manufacturing jobs are lost. The economic recession is impacting East Texas. As companies cut back, however, churches are cutting no corners. In fact, they're putting up more. Churches say a bible building boom has hit East Texas and for good reason.
They're the future sites of community centers, classrooms, conference centers and the future is getting closer and closer to now.
"We have used every square inch of the land that we have downtown," said Christ Episcopal Church member Sherry Dunn. Dunn walked us through Christ Episcopal Church's new four story grelling-spence youth building in Tyler. It's a $7 million project funded by pledge dollars and member donations.
"When we started the project, times were a little bit better economically," said Dunn. "I think it would be more difficult to try to start this project today."
"It's really a capital investment in ministry now and ministry in the future," said Green Acres Baptist Church Senior Associate Pastor Ken Warren. "It's just like the human body. As it continues to grow and get stronger, it gets larger, it's capable of doing more things. The church is the same way." Green Acres Baptist Church's new conference center is already underway, part of a $40 million multi-phase project. Warren says it's already paying off in more ways than one. He says off-site outreach centers help the community and on-site construction helps create jobs.
"Our contractor is Denson Construction, right here in Tyler," said Warren.
"Our architects are from Tyler," said Dunn.
"In between 80 and 90 percent of the contractors on this job are from the local economy," said Rose Heights Church of God elder Brandon Parker. "It's in this time that people need places to be able to go and to depend on." Parker says Rose Heights Church of God is creating that place. Their new community life center is expected to be finished early next year.
"If we can reach out to people in our community, that's what we're here for," said Dunn. With hopes those people will come.
Another economic advantage, the churches we spoke with member donations, capital campaigns, and pledges they'll be virtually debt free when their projects are completed.