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First Baptist Dallas Prepares To Open $130 Million Campus In Downtown

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Take a virtual tour of the new First Baptist Dallas.

First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress now shrugs off the national attention he received when his church was snubbed by quarterback Tim Tebow because of Jeffress's often controversial stand against gays.

"That's all behind us," Jeffress laughed when asked about it before he listed off speakers scheduled to appear in the church in coming weeks.

Jeffress' focus now is on finishing a 500-thousand square foot, $130 million dollar church in the heart of downtown Dallas.

"We really wanted our new campus to be a spiritual oasis in the heart of downtown Dallas inviting all people to come," Jeffress said as he stood on the second floor of the four story campus looking down on a 3/4 acre public space down below with a large fountain in the center topped by a towering cross. Water cascaded down the tapered base beneath the cross as workers put the finishing touches on the fountain below.

"We have 28 jets to shoot water up," Jeffress explained. "Its choreographed to go along with great hymns of the faith."

The design allows the public to wander into the center of the campus. In fact, two visitors to the area from Canada ate lunch there without knowing they were on church property.

"They were walking around and saw a big crowd gathered to eat and they wandered in there got a burger and never realized that they were out at First Baptist Dallas until they walked out of the doors and met me," said Pam Brewer, a church staff member.

The church hired an Imagineer from Disney to design four floors worth of space for children and teens. Each floor has different themes and gathering rooms for various ages ranging from the brightly colored beach themes for the young kids to a subtle, earth-toned uptown loft area for teens.

First Baptist Dallas Church Jeffress
(credit: CBS 11 News)

The sanctuary doubles the seating of the old church and is far more technologically advanced.

"This large screen is the width of the runways at DFW Airport," Jeffress said pointing to a long, wavey ribbon of video displays that seamlessly spans the width of the sanctuary behind the pulpit. The screen is fed by seven projectors that can show one large image or various images and text to accompany a sermon.

Does Jeffress think some of the smaller churches might think this is a bit audacious?

"Well, I think we've had so many churches who have said to us, small churches, thank you for what you're doing because you've given us the faith to step out and do what we feel god's calling us to do," Jeffress said.

The church will unveil the lighting on the new fountain in a special service March 24th at 7 p.m. They plan on opening the new sanctuary for Easter Services the following Sunday.

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