HAYWOOD — “There’s not much between Jackson and Memphis, but there’s about to be.”
That observation was from Danny Sinquefield, coordinator of the Blue Oval City Partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, who emphasized that thousands of people will soon be moving to the area.
By 2025, Ford Motor Company is planning to open Blue Oval City, a 3,600-acre campus in Haywood County. The campus will create over 5,000 plant jobs in addition to tens of thousands of construction jobs.
Already, construction workers, many of them from South Korea, are building temporary homes in the region and preparing to start work.
“Blue Oval City coming to West Tennessee and to the state of Tennessee is one of the biggest opportunities God has ever given Tennessee Baptists,” said Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington.
FBC, Lexington, and several other churches are partnering together to prepare the gospel to be known in the six county impact region of Haywood, Fayette, Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale and Madison counties.
Sinquefield has three goals for the region: to strengthen and revitalize existing churches, bring on partnership churches and plant more churches.
Some churches closest to the epicenter of the Blue Oval City are anxious about the influx of people to the area. Sinquefield estimates growth by 35,000 to 50,000 people.
“I think some of them are scared to death,” he said. “‘What does it mean that all these thousands of people are moving in our area, and they’re not going to come to our church?’”
But Sinquefield wants to work with the churches to develop an achievable goal of reaching three or four new households a year to begin to grow.
Sinquefield also wants the coalition to have a practical goal for planting new churches, maybe four a year for the next 10 years.
However, he needs the partnership of Tennessee Baptists to both plant the churches and give so that resources are available for the churches.
In West Tennessee, Sinquefield is looking for bigger churches in some larger cities to partner with smaller churches.
“What if these churches, in partnerships with the key churches, could find ways to really build relational bridges, share the gospel, minister to their families?” he said.
The next few years are critical for preparing for the harvest, Sinquefield said. By the end of 2024, he wants some church plants ready to go.
He’s praying for God to put it on the heart of a farmer or landowner to donate five or six acres for the first church plant.
He asked that Tennessee Baptists would pray for that miracle, along with praying that the coalition would be unified, serve churches and pastors well, love the workers and see many people come to Christ.
The gospel is already being shared with arriving workers. Sinquefield shared a story of pastor Mike Young from Zion Baptist Church, Brownsville, sharing the gospel with two Korean workers from Seoul.
“When we think of missions we think of going to other nations, but there are going to be people coming here from all over the world so this is a great opportunity, unique opportunity, to spread the gospel,” said Jim McAdams, pastor of Brownsville Baptist Church.
The Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions will help provide resources for this revitalization and church planting work, like trainings to help church planters.
“The harvest is coming. The people are coming. We’ve got some work to do,” Sinquefield said. B&R