For Donnie Arrant, Roots & Reach has been on his heart for 20 years. He came on staff at Brook Hills in February 1994 as the Associate Pastor in Pastoral Care, and then later moved into his current position as Pastor of Administration.
The Church at Brook Hills had just been established four years prior. Donnie remembers the first Sunday in the “new building,” what is now referred to as the Student Building. “We were overcapacity even our first Sunday. We eventually went to two services in order to meet the need, and then were at four services within three years of being in that building.” The need for more space was great, and the church stepped up to meet it.
“We wouldn’t have Sunday mornings like we do now if the church in the 90’s hadn’t sacrificially given to provide this facility. It’s important to slow down a moment and remember the sacrifices they made to buy this property and the facilities we use. Some of those people are still here today.”
The process for the building began and leadership started meeting with an architect. “The first architects didn’t hear our heart for this building. We wanted it to be cost-effective, contemporary, highly-functional, and low maintenance. They wanted to make it more grandeur in appearance. Our vision was to build a building that doesn’t have the typical church building appearance, because we wanted to be an open door for all people. We wanted an accessible place for people to come and hear the gospel and hear that it’s life-changing. The building is just a tool. That’s why we have ‘The Church’ as the first part of our name. We are the gathered body, and this is just a facility that we use to disciple and bring people to Christ.”
That’s when Aubrey Garrison, Brook Hills member and architect, entered the picture. He understood the vision and worked with the leadership team to design the building we gather to worship in every week. Bill Kreis, Brook Hills member, also worked as the General Superintendent and Project Manager of the project. The groundbreaking took place in May 1997, and the church moved in January 1999. This project was just phase one of the plan, with some value engineering decisions made in light of that, because the church planned to build phase two in 3-4 years. “We thought any day we’d build a building. Any day has now been 20 years.”
Now, God has called that same team together to help accomplish what He’s laid before us with Roots & Reach. Aubrey’s team has overseen the design of the future building space, and Bill’s company will execute the construction. God is using even the construction site as a mission field, bringing Roots & Reach full-circle. JohnsonKreis has purchased, from their own expenses, Roots & Reach t-shirts for the team to wear while working on site. Donnie says, “Every Friday, Bill, or someone on his team, takes a break with the guys and has a 30-40 minute devotional on the work site. Bill is a disciple-maker, concerned for the lost, and desires for God to use their company for His glory.”
Looking back, Donnie has seen God’s hand in it all. “We have been able to use this facility to meet people’s needs and be a part of something so special. I’m excited about entering this new time where people have an opportunity to invest in the future. Now it’s our time to step up and help provide the quality of facility needed to meet growth needs and provide community and fellowship. We need the unity of the body.”
“It’s been a vision of mine to see this completed since finishing the first building, so that we’ll be better equipped with a space for people to come here and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. With the new educational facility for adults and children, we’ll be able to provide more room for families with children to have space on-campus to meet in their small groups, while their children attend children’s ministry. We also hope to have more of a comfortable hospitality area in the lobby, conducive for groups to gather and talk.”
“I’m so excited to be a part of this and to have the opportunity to give leadership to it. It’s a privilege, an honor, and humbling. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord in this way. Brook Hills is my heart.”
Donnie Arrant, and his wife Cathy, have been members of Brook Hills since 1993. They have two children and five grandchildren.