The Springhill vision

Springhill Baptist in east Gainesville builds a sanctuary

Published: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 11:34 p.m.
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David Vanrensburg, left, and Glenn Stayte, under the steeple, of Classic Construction in Fort Lauderdale, team up to install a steeple atop the new sanctuary of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Excitement over the construction of the new Springhill Missionary Baptist Church grew by several degrees recently as an 18-foot, 466-pound fiberglass steeple topped with a white cross was placed on the new sanctuary like a crown atop a noble head.
"I got chills all over me," said Carl Baskin, a behavior resource teacher at Prairie View Elementary School and a 20-year member of Springhill. Baskin visits the construction site on Williston Road daily, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, just to see how work there progresses.
"Every time I go over there, I get excited and you know it's the Lord, because it's something you don't normally feel."
After seven years of fund-raising, Springhill Baptist began construction in December on a new 21,000-square-foot church, which will more than quadruple the space the church currently occupies.
When completed in late June, the approximately $1.4 million church will include an 11,000-square-foot sanctuary, classrooms, offices and a fellowship hall.
"Where we are now, we have ample worship space, but we don't have classrooms and a nursery to do things with young people and better serve the community," said Deacon Freddie Ragin, who has been with the church for 17 years, five of them as deacon.
Attendance at the two Sunday services averages about 500 people. But that number is expected to grow as the church draws new members from the surrounding neighborhoods, which include Sugar Hill and Spring Hill.
Already the church, which is looking for a full-time pastor, is shuttling about 25 mostly young people from those neighborhoods to Sunday services at the existing church at 902 SE 10th Terrace.
Meanwhile, Springhill Missionary continues to operate at its current site, the second church building at that address. The original church, established 118 years ago, was torn down and completely rebuilt in the 1950s.
A renovation followed some 20 years later. But about 10 years ago, church members began talking seriously about buying a piece of property and building a church that would allow them to grow in membership and ministry.
Over the years, church members held fund-raisers and contributed a portion of their tithing to raise about 25 percent of the cost of construction, said Ragin.
The church also sold bonds to help finance construction.
The church purchased about 4 acres of land at 120 SE Williston Road in 1997. Another -acre was donated by Mercedes Reese, who owned a wooded lot adjacent to the property.
The new location will give the church more visibility and more space for parking as well.
"We wanted to plan for the future," said Baskin, who is chairman of the church's finance committee. "Like the Word says, "Where there's no vision, people perish."
"We want to be a place where people can be elevated and have a purpose," said Ragin, who is originally from Umatilla in Lake County.
"We want them to see they can excel when they are told they cannot succeed. In our community, we have doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers and young deacons. People just need to be given a chance."
Lillian Guevara-Castro can be reached at (352) 374-5039, or via e-mail at

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