G) Bellevue Baptist Church
Vol. 27, No. 29
• Dr. Adrian Rogers,
Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee
July 23, 1987
An aerial view of the approximately Todd Lillard)
5,500 persons attending
on the site of Bellevue's
future worship center and education
Bellevue Enters Its Canaan
The Bellevue family, celebrating a day it had awaited anxiously for more than 3lj2 years, firmly planted its feet in its promised land in a joyous, dramatic and unique groundbreaking service on Sunday evening, July 19. Approximately 5,500 persons gathered under the late afternoon sun for what proved to be one of the most spectacular and decidedly different groundbreaking ceremonies ever held by a church. The culmination of the service, and of the years of waiting, began following some thrilling music and the recognition of guests. Dr. Adrian Rogers, Bellevue's pastor, called Caleb's Kids to the front of the congregation. (Caleb's Kids were the members of Bellevue's Children's Division, grades one to six.) The pastor began laying the foundation for an updated version of the account in Numbers 13 of the 12 spies from Israel who went on a mission into Canaan. After Joyce Rogers sang "I Want That Mountain" (the request of Caleb), the pastor called 12 spies to the front. Down the middle aisle walked Joshua (portrayed by Riad Saba) and Caleb (portrayed by Mark Alexander) carrying a giant cluster of grapes on a staff. Down the other aisles walked 10 more spies, all appearing in green grasshopper costumes (designed by Carolyn Higginbotham of the Music Ministry). Caleb and Joshua gave an exciting minority report about Canaan, the name used by the Bellevue family during the last 3lj2 years for its 376-acre future home in east Memphis. They described the richness, beauty and fruit of the land and urged the children of God at Bellevue to possess their promised land. The other 10 spies then brought a majority report based on the original, faithless spies' "evil" report in Numbers 13:33: "And there we saw the giants ... and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight'.' The first grasshopper reported to the pastor and spoke of a giant named Fear whom he had spotted in the land. He urged the children of God not to go into Canaan because of this giant. As the grasshopper spoke, a 12-foot tall sign with a giant and the word "Fear" on it was raised
(Continued on Page 3.)
JULY 23, 1987
The last grasshopper gives his report to Dr. Rogers on the platform, while the others stand in front of their giants just prior to groundbreaking. to be used against the giants stand behind the choir.
Signs naming the weapons
Giants Fall As Bellevue Breaks Ground
(Continued From Page 1.) between the platform and the front of the congregation. The pastor turned to Caleb's Kids and asked, "Are we going to let a giant of fear keep us out of the land?" The children shouted back in unison, "No!" The pastor asked the children-what the Bellevue family would need to overcome the giant named Fear. A sign with the word "Faith" painted on it rose behind the choir bleachers. The children and the pastor shouted out the cure for fear. The other nine grasshoppers gave their reports. Each named a giant, and each time Caleb's Kids shouted "No" to the suggestion that Bellevue let such a giant keep it out of Canaan. Each time a 12-foot tall sign with a giant on it and a sign with the corresponding weapon to overcome each giant were raised. The other giants' names were Unbelief, Selfishness, Bitterness, Strife, Hate, Laziness, Pride, Carelessness and Prayerlessness. The corresponding weapons were, in order, trust, giving, joy, peace, love, zeal, humility, concern and prayer. After each grasshopper gave his report, he stood in front of his giant. Caleb's Kids then scurried to get some of the 900 balloons to be released. The pastor announced that the groundbreaking was ready to begin. A fanfare, played by 110 trumpets, began. Cannon fire erupted. The children released the red, white and blue balloons. A rumbling noise came from the wooded area nearby. The grasshoppers fled. Four pieces of heavy equipment, led by a bulldozer, appeared from the trees and headed toward the giants. The bulldozer lowered its blade, dug into the ground in front of the platform and knocked over the 10 giants to the applause of the congregation. A grader, front-end loader and earth mover followed the bulldozer's path. After they passed the platform, Dr. Rogers stepped to the microphone and shouted, "Hallelujah!" Bellevue's jubilant members joined hands and
Rev. Jim Whitmire leads the congregation in a chorus, while those on the platform, including Dr. and Mrs. Adrian Rogers (far right), join in. Among the guests on the front row of the platform are Memphis Mayor Richard C. Hackett (second from left), Shelby County Mayor William N. Morris Jr. (third from left) and US. Congressman Don Sundquist (fourth from left).
sang "Bind Us Together" to draw to a close a glorious evening. Earlier in the service, Dr. Rogers introduced seven special guests who gave brief, yet meaningful messages to the Bellevue family. They were U.S. Congressman Don Sundquist; Memphis Mayor Richard C. Hackett; Shelby County Mayor William N. Morris Jr; Germantown Mayor Warner Hodges 1II; Rev. Gordon Crocker, executive director of the Shelby Baptist Association; Roe Messner, the architect and builder, and Darrell Howe, the designer. The pastor also introduced the members of Bellevue's Building Construction and Property Planning Committee. Roe Messner, who said he was attending his 1,209th groundbreaking, looked out at the huge gathering and said, "I'm not sure we're building it big enough'.' What he saw was 3,000 persons sitting in chairs, many more standing or sitting on the slope behind the chairs and nearly 500 persons in the choir and orchestra. The groundbreaking service was held on the site of the future worship center. Four large, red
balloons marked the corners of the worship center building. Four large, yellow balloons were stationed at the corners of the education wings. Each of the balloons released by the children had a card attached with the name of a Children's Division member and a Scripture verse on it. The cards were addressed to the church. The child whose balloon travels farthest will receive a $10 gift certificate to Bellevue's book store. The church voted to purchase the property and move to a new home on October 30, 1983. Only weeks ago, on June 21, the church voted to approve Commercial Builders of Kansas to finalize drawings and to construct Phase I of the building project at a maximum cost of $34,383,000. The projected completion date for Phase Iis the summer of 1989. Commercial Builders began working on the project the day after the groundbreaking. Equipment and trailers were moved onto the property on Monday, June 20, and some bulldozing work was done.