published Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Woodland Park Baptist Church vote welcomes Tennessee Temple University

Woodlandpark/Tennessee Temple
Woodlandpark/Tennessee Temple
  • photo
    Property owned by Woodland Park Baptist Church in Tyner could be a possible future home of Tennessee Temple University.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Woodland Park Baptist Church and Tennessee Temple University partnership is a go.

Woodland Park leaders finished collecting their congregation's votes Wednesday night on whether to affirm Temple's move to their church campus, and tallied votes Thursday.

The results were overwhelming in favor -- more than 90 percent support the move of Tennessee Temple to Woodland Park's sprawling campus.

Steve McCary, associate pastor at the church and head of the Temple partnership committee, issued a statement on the vote.

"Culminating a five-month process of prayer, and having received a clear confirmation with over 90 percent affirmation responses from the membership, the General Council of Elders gratefully and humbly announce their belief that God is moving us forward with the Tennessee Temple University partnership, which includes TTU moving their campus to WPBC campus and the sale of a portion of WPBC property to TTU for their campus development," he said.

The proposed move will go next before the Chattanooga City Council. Temple President Steve Echols said he believes that will happen May 13.

That process includes finalizing development plans with the architects, getting the necessary financing -- which Echols said he doesn't expect to be a problem -- and selling the school's Highland Park property.

Echols said there are several good prospects.

However, Echols added that the school is still in a good place to move even if the property doesn't sell right away.

"The time frame basically is that we would begin construction sometime in August on the dorms, a university center, ballfields, maintenance building and finishing out education space inside the church, " Echols said.

According to Echols, those phases would take about a year to finalize, and the school could begin its move by June 2015 to be ready at its new location for the fall semester of 2015.

"So everything seems to be falling in place at this point, and we're very grateful to God and to Woodland Park Baptist Church. This was a very huge undertaking for them to consider, requiring a lot of faith, and I just want to commend their leadership, they have been very patient," Echols said.

"The more we're getting to know them, the more we just have felt God in this partnership. They have been wonderful to work with, and we think it's going to be a great partnership."

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at aharris@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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