By Stephanie Heading
On Sunday, March 12, University Baptist Church (UBC), Beavercreek, dedicated its new facility and celebrated the journey of the church from its founding in 1967 to today. “The Lord has brought us this far,” Pastor Jason Wing told the congregation. For the rapidly growing church, the expansion project took longer than expected, but they saw God’s hand at work every step of the way.
“The Lord has brought us this far.”
UBC started discussing an expansion of its facilities and saving for the project in 2016. When Wing became pastor in 2018, he wanted time to settle in. “I had never led a church through a building campaign,” he said. “I wanted time to learn, grow, and become comfortable at UBC.”
However, the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak damaged the church facilities and moved up the expansion timeline. “We were looking forward to a discussion on expansion in July 2019,” said Wing. “We had over 1000 people in worship one Sunday in 2019. They were sitting in the hallways and on the stairs. We knew we had to expand.”
The Covid pandemic of 2020 put the expansion project on hold again as worship services moved online.
“We continued to grow through Covid, but we didn’t have the bandwidth to do an expansion project,” said Wing. “We were focused on Covid changes.”
UBC worship services met in a variety of locations during the pandemic. ln summer and fall 2020, worship services met outdoors in the UBC parking lot. During fall 2020 through June 2021, the congregation worshipped in an empty store at the Fairfield Commons Mall.
After learning that they had to leave their mall space in June 2021, UBC returned home and found creative ways to use the facilities to the fullest, holding as many as six services every Sunday –three services in the main building and three services at the annex building across the street.
While it seemed expansion was being delayed, God was still at work in 2020 and 2021. “God has brought the people here who made this happen,” said Wing. The church learned of and partnered with “Builders for Christ,” a volunteer group of churches that work every summer helping churches with construction projects.
Things continued to coalesce in 2021, and UBC introduced “Make Him Known,” a two-year generosity initiative of UBC. According to the UBC website, “This is far more than a building campaign – this is a call to join God’s mission and invest in something that will matter for eternity. It’s about committing our lives as a church family to the cause of Christ and the mission He gave the church: the Great Commission. We want to become a church that lives not only to know Christ but to make Him known in all the world.”
“Make Him Known was not just a building campaign. It is a one fund campaign,” Wing said. He noted that the campaign raised funds for here, near, and everywhere. “’Here’ is our members at UBC. ‘Near’ is for facilities and people who are nearby, and ‘Everywhere’ is for missions.”
Groundbreaking was March 20, 2022, and Builders for Christ volunteers began work on May 16, 2022. By the time the initial phase of construction was completed, 1100 volunteers from 87 churches and 25 states completed 40,000 hours of volunteer labor on the building, saving UBC approximately $1 million. Members of UBC worked alongside Builders for Christ volunteers, investing their time into the new facility.
Their efforts culminated in a 19,000 square foot facility with an auditorium that seats 659 people, an expansive lobby with an Information Center and Café coffee bar, prayer rooms, and classrooms. UBC is also in the process of remodeling its former auditorium and its annex, UBC East. Those renovations will be finished later this summer.
“The church belongs to the Lord.”
During the Dedication Service, Wing pointed the congregation to the beginnings of UBC. Estill Johnson and his wife, Oleda, founded UBC in 1967. Estill remained a member of UBC until his passing in 2020. To honor the faithfulness of the Johnsons and their belief that “The church belongs to the Lord,” Estill’s Bible was buried under the spot where the pulpit sits on the platform in the new auditorium. “UBC is grounded on the shoulders of saints,” said Wing.
Amidst the joy and celebration of the Dedication Service, Wing reminded the church that a new building is not the end goal. “Ministry is not about us having a brand-new building. It’s about people having a brand-new life in Jesus. My hope is to see these seats filled with people who need life in Jesus and love in the church. It’s the mission of every Bible-believing, faithful church to go make disciples.”