The Story of the Land at 2340 Pump Road

A God Story

Acquiring the Land at 2340 Pump Road

The journey to Community West owning and stewarding the 19 acres of land at 2340 Pump Road is filled with miraculous moments of God’s provision and leading.  The story is truly a God story.

In 2008, leaders of Third Church, the mother church of Community West, first got interested in the land, when Third envisioned a second site of Third Church “further west” than its existing site.  At the time, the land was owned by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s service organization.  We heard that at least twice, the Knights had put the land on the market but then pulled back.  In 2008, we were at the right time at the right place, when they seemed resolved to sell.  From this point on, there were multiple signs of God’s providence and miraculous activity resulting in our now having the land.  Here are a few significant moments in our God story of acquiring the land.

  1. During negotiations for a potential sale of the land, the Knights reported to us that 21 real estate developers expressed interest in purchasing the land, many of whom were willing to pay considerably more per acre than the limited liability company (an “LLC”) assembled by members and friends from Third Church would be paying.  There were also three not-for-profit suiters of which we were one.  Because the land was zonedagricultural (which permits churches without rezoning), we had an early “in.”  It also felt providential that our Lead Pastor and the Knights real estate agent were personal friends from high school.  In the end the Knights of Columbus chose us over all of the other bidders to negotiate a potential purchase of the land.
  2. Also, we encountered another miracle from God when along the way, we met an apparent deal-breaker when we learned there was a certain minimum road frontage for churches required by an Henrico Countyzoning ordinance, and this property didn’t meet that minimum frontage.  Imagine our surprise when we learned that Grace Community Baptist Church, our next door neighbor to the north, owned a little piece of land, contiguous to our property, and across Burnside Drive from their own.  Imagine our even greater surprise when we learned the amount of their operating budget shortfall for that year equaled the market value for that small tract of land, leaving them motivated to sell!   Grace Community Baptist Church formed a committee to negotiate a deal with our team, and we learned that the head of their committee and a member of our team had been in a men’s Bible study together 20 years earlier.  Again, that detail felt like God’s provision.  We soon struck a deal that seemed to benefit both churches.  The entire development felt unmistakably from the hand of God.
  3. After buying the land from the Knights, the LLC leased it to Third Church with an option to purchase it, so that the “second site” could worship there and with the plan eventually to buy the land from the LLC for what it paid for it.  But by 2014, Third Church decided it did not want to keep leasing the land anymore and offered it to Community West Church.  Still at a fledgling new church stage, Community West’s elders prayed and expressed bold faith in taking on a $212,000 annual lease payment, for 20 months until we were in a position to buy the landfrom the LLC.  Miraculously, God had provided a $100,000 out of area gift, which was vital to us carrying the payments.  Also, miraculously, at one Stated Session meeting in early 2016, we learned we were $35,000 short on lease payments.  Our Elders prayed and discerned we would go to the congregation for these funds, but start with our Elders.  After praying again, the Elders passed a hat where each of the seven Elders put in on a slip of paper an amount they were willing personally to give to help offset the need.  When we counted up the amounts, we learned the seven amounts, confidentially submitted by each Elder added up to a few dollars more than the entire $35,000 we needed. 
  4. When it came to Community West purchasing the land itself, for the $2.6million purchase price, our story felt like the miracle of God’s provision.   Community West had been launched as an independent church from Third Church in April, 2014.  Nonetheless, Third Church honored a capital campaign pledge to supply Community West with $800,000 for the purchase.  Selling the rights to the cell tower (which was up for renewal at that time), plus the generous gifts of the Community West congregation along with friends of the church, and a small seller-financed loan from the Knights of Columbus, enabled us to assemble the funds needed for the purchase!  On March 3, 2016, Community West purchased the 19 acres of land.  Since then, and because of the generous gifts of our congregation, the remaining balance on the purchase money loan from the Knights of Columbus is only $240,000.

These are a few high moments of the God story which is our land story at Community West.  Thank you for being part of the story God continues to write.  

To God be the Glory!

13 thoughts on “The Story of the Land at 2340 Pump Road

  1. Dear Community West Congregation,
    Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your willingness to contend with me for our flourishing future at Community West! I think we stand at a pivotal moment, when God invites us to contend for his kingdom in West Richmond and beyond! Will you pray fervent prayers with me this month? Will you contend against the forces of darkness and evil, in prayer? The Israelites fought their battles not merely with implements of war, but with fervent prayers of remembering God’s faithfulness and seeking his provision. Will you pray and fast with me and your Elders and other leaders in November! I think this is an epic moment for our church where we’re being invited into the larger story, namely God’s story of salvation on the earth, through prayer.

  2. I have been thinking about the word “contend” all day today…reading the many different definitions attached to this word. There is a KJV Dictionary Definition I stumbled on that caught my attention: to stretch. Then there are the follow-up definitions: striving, the earnest efforts to obtain, and preserve. I felt all of these words yesterday while carefully listening to Nelson’s profound sermon. The overall desire to stretch, strive, obtain, and preserve everyone’s vision for Community West – was beautifully present yesterday during the community conversation time. One of my favorite verses in Mark (NIV) is 12:30 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” I love how the words “with all your” repeat each time. It seems to me that “with all your” and “contend” – could be pushed together and lay the foundation of my prayers for the land each day.

  3. The heart behind our season of fasting and prayer that begins this week is we want God to speak. We are always so quick to devise our own plans. We want God to speak. Throughout salvation history, God has always demonstrated his abundance, provision and his goodness to his people, and their (natural and proper) response is faith and obedience. We want God to speak so we can follow his way and his will, and depend on Him. It’s exciting to realize that the same God who miraculously helped the Israelites occupy Cana (the Promised Land) is the God leading us.

  4. The heart behind our season of fasting and prayer is also to ask the Spirit to empower our church. You have ideas and energy to offer to our “Moving into the Neighborhood” Campaign, and we need those ideas and that energy! I pray the Spirit will lead you in how you’re led to be involved.

  5. Fasted and prayed through breakfast this morning. Prayed that many in our church were doing the same as we are in this time of discernment!

  6. I was struck by the title of Paul Tripp’s devotion on November 11th: “You don’t wait for grace and then do what God has told you to do. You get enabling grace in motion.” Tripp looks at Exodus 14 to make his point. The Pharaoh is bearing down on the Israelites, who are backed up to the sea and petrified and screaming to Moses for leading them out of Egypt and seemingly to their death. The Lord says to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward…” As they moved forward, God caused the sea to part and the Israelites were able to cross on dry land while the Egyptians were trapped in the sea.
    How had the Israelites forgotten all that God had done for them up to this point? God showed them already that He was trustworthy, but they could only focus on their present circumstances and panicked. I don’t judge the Israelites as I often find myself fearing some circumstance in my life, while forgetting just how faithful God has been in my life. I pray we can move forward and follow the Lord!
    I love hearing the story of our church told over and over! It is so clear that God has been directing us to “take the land” for years! What is not mentioned in the story is how Fakhri Yacoub walked the land years ago praying that God would use it for His purposes!
    As I have been praying for our church I have been asking, what does it look like to move forward. In order to serve the community surrounding our church, I do believe we need to build something aesthetically pleasing to our community, something that is warm and welcoming. Today, as I sat in my last class of Barnabas level 2 training, listening to each woman talk about how God has met her through the material presented, through our leaders and fellow participants one woman shared a vision of our community being affected by the godly principles of Barnabas spreading out like a ripple. As she spoke, I found myself hoping that our new building could be a part of that vision!
    This is an exciting time and I can’t wait to see how God will lead us as we move forward in obedience to take the land!!

  7. As elders, regarding the land and first facility, mostly what we have done for the past ten years is to take the next step. It has been a long process and we may wonder why. I don’t know why. But I can tell you what. Along this journey we have seen God at work, showing us only the next step to take. As we have taken each next step in faith, our faith in God has grown. And as we tell of His leading and His intervention, we get to tell another story about God engaging with us and providing for us. And each time we tell one of those stories, God is magnified and glorified. This current season of contending is the most recent step God showed us along the path He has laid out for us. We don’t know what comes after this. But we are confident that He will show us and that we will be given another story to share of God’s faithfulness and provision.

  8. I”m often struck by how many times the Bible tells us to remember…and how often I forget to do just that. When I read and hear this story of the land, I’m reminded again of just how good God has been to us already…in the working out of the smallest of details to provision of very large amounts of money at exactly the right times. We are not many in number. And most of us are not great in wealth. From a natural/practical perspective, it doesn’t make sense that our growing church owns 19 beautiful acres in the middle of the West End. But it points to God and how He makes ways when there doesn’t seem to be ways.

    I’ve seen God provide and move and bring us to this place. And I’m so excited for how the next phase of our church’s story will unfold. I’m also SUPER practical and find the amount of our financial need to be daunting. I also know I have really small vision and am forgetful (see previous paragraph).

    As I’ve been thinking and praying this week, a few things have come to mind related to our purpose and vision:
    – The church exists for the sake of those who are not yet part of it
    – We are told that others will know we are Christians by how we love
    – We are called to seek the peace (shalom) of the city where we are currently planted

    While Wikipedia is not generally the best or most reliable source of information, I LOVE the way it defines shalom. “In the Bible, shalom means the universal flourishing, wholeness and delight; a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts are fruitfully employed; a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. WOW!

    I want to be a part of bringing that kind of peace to the people around our land on Pump Road, to each of you, and to our neighbors in West Richmond and beyond. What a compelling vision of the transformative love of Jesus. It brings me so many more questions that I’d love to think about more along the way. If we are to be known by our love for each other and if we are to love our neighbors, what does that love look like? How would someone who does not yet know us or Jesus feel and receive our love? What would working for their peace and flourishing look like? What can we invite them into on our land, even know when we don’t yet have a building, that would help them to taste the goodness and beauty of God? How are we being called to delight in the people around us who reflect God’s image? In what ways can we support and love and empower people in our community?

    I can’t remember who said it during the community meeting last week, but I loved the idea of practicing ways of being on the land more ourselves now and inviting the community to enjoy it more with us….with the hope of spreading the vision and inviting more people to join us. There was a suggestion that this might be a way of helping fund the village green portion of the project. I also loved the idea of us actually working and putting some sweat equity into the project in ways we can – not because it will cut costs in significant ways, but because the investment of our time will demonstrate our valuing of and belief in the vision. And because something will be built in us and between us as we work.

    I have so many more thoughts, but this is plenty for now 🙂 Look forward to hearing for you all here as your’e thinking and praying and processing. All your voices are important and welcome here!

  9. A group of us prayed on the land today. We praised and thanked God for his faithfulness and past provision. A few of us who were praying together discerned a call to faith (not fear). God repeatedly said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” We want to be strong and courageous as we contend for Christ’s mission in West Richmond and beyond.

  10. I have been reflecting on the events and discussions of the last week related to the future of Community West. We had a very engaging Community West family conversation last Sunday with many thoughts and ideas shared. People have also shared insights and wisdom through these blog posts. Yesterday, a group of us met on the land to pray together. It is uplifting and inspiring to see so many people praying, fasting, and contending for the future God has for our church and the communities around us. One theme in all of this is that we know we are dependent on God and seek from Him wisdom and discernment. He already knows what will happen next with our land and future building, and what will be here generations from now. We are praying that we will all join Him in his plans.

    I would encourage everyone to continue to pray, and to find other ways to be involved as well. There is a place for everyone to be part of what God is doing for us and through us..

  11. I fasted on Wednesday, knowing I was in community with others. The journey helped me stop and pray every time I thought about food. They were tiny moments in my busy workday, but they were precious reminders to get out of myself and my own head and go to God in prayer. Those tiny moments of connection were moments of grace, bringing me closer to God, petitioning him and contending with him to give us wisdom and discernment about the first facility. On Saturday morning I joined others on the land, praying earnestly to God to reveal his plan to us, to touch the hearts of the many whose hands will be involved in our journey, and again to give us wisdom and discernment. Walking the land in prayer with others from our community was a beautiful reminder that the same God who gave instruction to Joshua in Jericho thousands of years ago is the same God we’re contending with today, and the same God who knows how he will use what we do today for generations to come. What peace there is in trusting his providence.

  12. Prayed on the Land last night with a student, walking around the trail and left that time feeling more certain than ever that we are suppose to be on that property.

  13. God’s wisdom available through seeking the old paths. I’ve come across Jeremiah 6:16 several times this year, the most recent of which in “Man Church” this morning. It makes me think of our discussion of being engaged with the land and contending for what God wants to do with the land we’re stewarding.
    Jeremiah 6:16: This is what the LORD says (in pleading to the rebellious Israelites, who refused to listen):

    Thus says the Lord:

    “Stand in the ways and see,
    And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
    And walk in it;
    Then you will find rest for your souls.

    Some commentary (www.enduringword.com): the old paths mean looking to the history of our forefathers – the Mosaic tradition – to learn what God had done in and through them before. To benefit from the old paths, God told them to position themselves (stand in the ways) – to look for them (see), to desire them (ask), see them as the good way, obey and follow God as indicated by His word and work in days gone by (walk in it). Then you will find rest for your souls – the rich reward for seeking, seeing and walking in the old paths – Jesus was likely quoting from this in Matthew 11:29. In Matthew 11:28-30, the Life Application Study Bible emphasizes Jesus freeing the people from their burdens with his promises of love, healing and peace with God…changing meaningless wearisome toil into purposeful spiritual productivity.

    May we contend and faithfully approach the Lord based on these ancient paths, and pray that the land may be used by God to provide freedom to the “captives” – all our neighbors surrounding the land and beyond, many of whom are surely carrying heavy loads and desperately need the Lord to walk with them. May the Lord add them to our numbers (Acts 2:47) by working in and through us according to His good purposes, for His glory. Amen.

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