ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A large church in Fleming Island has sold its property on U.S. 17. Leadership at Christ's Church Fleming Island made the announcement during services this morning.
The pastors at Christ's Church Fleming Island said the church had been struggling with debt and the sale will bring them out of it. The sale will also include the campus of the church's school, Christ's Church Academy.
But Sharing Tree Preschool (Fleming Island campus) which is the school operated by Christ's Church will now be turned over to River Christian Church and it will become River Preschool which will start operating in the building this fall. Students can return under the new ownership.
In a written statement, church officials identified three reasons why now was the right time for the move:
"1. Rapidly changing culture: "We live in the age of disbelief with more non-believers than believers. The regional 'come and see' model for ministry is in decline. People are spiritually sensitive, but there is a disconnect to the local church. We have to change our strategies to reach more people."
"2. Rapidly growing community: "Clay County is a large county projected to grow more than 30% in the next decade. The 295 beltway construction will create more neighborhoods and more opportunities to reach and make disciples."
"3. Limited resources: "After ten years, the Fleming Island church continues to carry a $7.5 million debt on a $10 million building. Our stewardship is generally healthy, but the financial obligation continues to handcuff the opportunities to do more and reach more (people)."
The church said they will relocate to a portable location, statrting July 28. Then the church will begin to look at opening additional 'neighborhood' type campuses in the area.
The Fleming Island Campus had been a separate campus from Christ's Church in Mandarin, and the two often combined services through video streaming.