I mentioned this past Sunday that we have some big news to announce for our church family. We wanted to go ahead and give our members a heads up of what’s happening before we announce it to everyone this Sunday.
B&A has been an incredible home for our Sunday gatherings for almost four years. Back when Iron City Church was just an idea, Jason Cook and Jason Dees originally planned on ICC using another church’s building in Southside. Those plans fell through before ICC launched our weekly services, and they ended up finding B&A Warehouse. B&A has proven to be one of those times in life that the backup plan was better than the original plan.
Anyone who has been around B&A on a Sunday evening in the past year has seen and felt our issues with the lack of space. We had to become creative with how to fit more chairs into the Big Room, and then we ran out of chairs. Space limitations have probably been even more pronounced every week for those who are working in our children’s ministry. About a year ago we knew we had to make some tough decisions about what Sunday gatherings would look like for Iron City Church in the days ahead.
At the beginning there was a discussion of going to more than one service on Sundays. That’s what the “church growth experts” would recommend, but as we discussed this as a church staff and with the lay leaders in our church, it became clear that we were united behind the idea that it would be best for our church to gather together in one service during this season.
Once we made that decision, we started looking for what would be the next home for our church gatherings. It has been over a year of having many conversations, looking at different locations, and narrowing in on what we felt would be the best place for us to weekly gather together.
Last spring I went to an Arc Stories event at Ramsay High School. I remember thinking that this was a cool historic auditorium and having read some about Ramsay during the days of integration, I spent much of the night speculating in my mind about all that may have happened in that room. At the time, I had no idea what the future would hold and how important that night would prove to be.
As we began talking about potential places, my mind kept going back to that Ramsay auditorium. I thought about how partnering with a Birmingham City School could provide incredible opportunities for us to both learn and grow when in comes to ministry in this city. We looked at other schools and locations, but everything kept pointing back to Ramsay. One Sunday every year, B&A asks us to relocate in order for them to host an event, and our team saw this as a great opportunity to focus on this potential meeting space. We had our Sunday service in the auditorium as a “trial run” on May 6 and got a lot of positive feedback from our leaders and volunteers.
The only real negative about Ramsay High School that came up in our discussions about the move from B&A is that this could be an opportunity for us to go further North into Birmingham. Ramsay is 11 Avenues South of B&A, but I am convinced that it is taking us much closer to our expressed goal of being a church that wants to bless our city with the gospel of Jesus to the glory of God.
Ramsay has been the magnet public high school for all of downtown Birmingham for years, which will provide us opportunities to meet students and families from all across the downtown community. I’ve called the principal of Ramsay, Ms. Cassandra Fells, a “principal of peace” for us. She told me in our first conversation that she has been praying for a church to meet at Ramsay and that she wants “as much Jesus there throughout the week as possible.” She is excited about the ways ICC can link arms with Ramsay in the days ahead.
The move to gathering each Sunday at Ramsay is an incredible opportunity for us to continue to move the ball down the field in the right direction when it comes to ministry in our city. But it will only prove to be that if we don’t just show up on Sundays, but also find ways to love and serve the students and faculty throughout the week.
I am asking you all to begin to pray and dream about ways we can faithfully love and serve Ramsay High School in the days ahead. We want to bless those who gather throughout the week in the place where our church will now gather on Sunday evenings.
Our first service at Ramsay High School will be on September 2 at 5pm. Same time, different place. That means our last Sunday service at B&A will be on August 26. I thought it would be fitting for Jason Cook to come back to preach for us that night, and he has graciously agreed. Day Three will have its first service of the Fall semester at B&A on August 28, but then will begin to meet weekly at Ramsay after that night.
Almost nothing has gone according to my plans over the last four years, but the Lord has proven to answer above and beyond what I knew to ask or imagine time after time during the short life of Iron City Church. I believe the best days are ahead for our church family, and I couldn’t be more honored to be one of your pastors as we continue to “make Jesus known and make disciples” in Birmingham and beyond!
grace & peace to you & yours,