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First Baptist Concord, WestLake Baptist churches unite

First Baptist Concord will be expanding its reach to include a second campus off Westland Drive.

First Baptist Concord has united with WestLake Church; the two campuses will be called First Baptist Concord Kingston Pike and First Baptist Concord WestLake.

WestLake was founded 13 years ago as a church plant of First Baptist Concord. Over the years, WestLake branched out on its own. This year, in the face of some financial troubles, WestLake members asked to reunite with FBC.

“WestLake has existed for about 13 years and met in A.L. Lotts [elementary school] for about three of those years,” said Phillip Martin, First Baptist teaching pastor and former farragutpress columnist.

Martin will be leading the services on the WestLake campus three Sundays a month, although Dr. Doug Sager will be senior pastor at both campuses.

“We were approached a couple of months ago by their leadership who, with some things they were going through, asked for our help,” Martin said.

“So the merger was burst out of that,” he added.

Members of both churches approved the union in a combined 96 percent “for” vote.

Both campuses of First Baptist will offer the same ministries and programs.

“The vision of the church would be that both campuses offer the same programs for both congregations, simply because we are one congregation, just meeting in two different places,” Martin said.

“We will be meeting [at WestLake] on Sunday mornings at 9 and 10:30 for our worship service and Bible study time, and then we offer children’s ministry, events, choirs, student ministry and Fusion; and all those will be at both campuses, but it will be one body doing it,” he added.

WestLake also will offer Upward soccer camps in the fall “because we are simply out of space here [at the Kingston Pike campus],” Martin said.

Martin and Sager will split time between campuses, with Sager leading services at Kingston Pike and Martin leading services at WestLake three Sundays a month, then flipping for the final Sunday.

The two pastors will speak on the same topics during services, beginning with a study of Colossians.

“One of the things we’re trying to do to keep this cohesive in this one-body approach is to have the same text, the same passage, the same theme. Obviously, we both have our own style, so the style will be reflected in that,” Martin said.

“Really, we would like to reach out to those folks that maybe have been dissatisfied with the worship experience or with church, or maybe they just haven’t found that setting that they’re looking for.

“We really want to be a staple in the community: a place where people can turn,” Martin said.

Martin came to First Baptist three years ago with wife, Mandy and triplet sons, Malachi, Mason and Maverick. Martin also has a 13-week-old daughter, Mahala.

Martin graduated from Carson-Newman College and Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“I came here as minister to young married adults and college students. About a year after that, I was just minister to young married adults.

“So I began to speak more on this campus and then about a year, year-and-a-half-ago, my role transitioned again to the teaching pastor … I speak when Dr. Sager’s not here [and] the majority of Sunday nights,” Martin said.

Martin’s responsibilities at the Kingston Pike campus will not change, he is merely adding his Sunday messages at WestLake. Aug. 24 is the first service he will lead on that campus.

“It’s going to be high-energy and fun,” Martin said.

First Baptist Concord also partners with other churches around the world and in the United States, through financial sponsorships and members or former members starting churches or ministries. Some of these locations include Hoboken, N.J.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Cleveland, OH.

“We’re trying to reach all places and touch people in all circumstances,” Martin said.

“We partner in a lot of different ways … we don’t just do it at WestLake; we’re everywhere,” he added.

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