A Franklin congregation has found a permanent church home on Wilson Pike in Brentwood after a three-year-long search.
Journey Church had met in the Factory at Franklin for nearly 10 years. When the complex sold a few years back, the new owners told Journey that it would need to find a different home when its lease was up.
“Knowing that transition was coming, that led us to seek out a permanent spot where we could really do lots of different things besides what a traditional church is really known for,” Journey Creative Director C.J. Casciotta said.
Efforts stepped up last year just around the time Journey’s lease ran out. Church leaders started raising money for a move but quickly found out that locating a church in the desirable Franklin area was to be no easy feat.
“Everybody wants to be in Franklin,” Casciotta said.
The church started dividing its four Sunday services between two different spaces—the Franklin Theatre and MPact Sports in Cool Springs—while the search continued.
Then, in November, Journey found the property at 1600 Wilson Pike, formerly the site of the Community Church, according to Williamson County transfer records.
“At some point it became really clear that this was the spot for us,” Casciotta said.
The reason has to do with both the nature of the property and of Journey’s vision.
As far as the property itself, it consists of a small church sitting on 10 acres of land zoned for churches, which Journey purchased for $2.2 million, according to transfer records.
That extra land is important, because Journey has plans beyond just weekly services in a single building.
“Our dream is really to make that space that we have now a community center that serves Nashville in a bunch of different ways,” Casciotta said. “We really see it as a place where a church meets, but it’s serving the community throughout the week.”
The website that Journey set up for its fundraising campaign asks for funds, not just for the purchase and renovation of the present building, but for the eventual construction of multiple other buildings. It would include a multi-purpose gathering space that can accommodate up to 750 people, as well as a fine arts venue.
Exact plans are fluid right now, but church leaders have come up with a host of ideas for the new site. One involves building a preschool. Another has to do with holding art classes for underprivileged kids. Casciotta said that a number of visual artists, musicians and filmmakers attend Journey. The church could become “a place where they could really share their gifts with the next generations.”
How it came to be
The plans come out of the church’s beliefs. Journey sees itself as more than just a Sunday gathering of believers.
“We’re convicted personally as a leadership team,” Casciotta said. “We want to be the church. We want to be the hands and feet of this person that we follow, Jesus, throughout every day of the week.”
It’s part of what Casciotta refers to as Journey’s “special call,” to get out there and serve the community, especially those “who have broken stories, who are outcasts and rejects.”
The sense that the church is a home for “outcasts and rejects” is a big part of Journey’s identity, Casciotta said. It’s a church that welcomes those who struggle, both with their beliefs and other personal issues.
“We’ve really tried to center our services and our ministries around people who are skeptical, people who are brokenhearted, people who have maybe grown up in church, but have had experiences that have made them distrust church,” Casciotta said. “We’ve kind of…made that person an archetype, the person that we really want to speak to. To say, ‘Yeah you may have gone to a church before, but you might have never met Jesus.’”
Journey has so far raised enough money to satisfy the first two phases of its plan. It secured a mortgage and renovating the current church building on the property. Casciotta said that the church hoped to have completed all of its fundraising associated with the new site in the next few years.
The church held a celebratory meal for its 1,000 or so members this past Sunday at the new property in lieu of traditional services. Casciotta said it was quite the experience to see so many members in one place at one time.
The mood was great.
“I pulled in to the parking lot [Sunday] at the new location and could not believe how abuzz it was,” he said. “There were so many smiling people connecting and meeting with each other. There seemed to be this palpable energy around this new season for us.”
Journey plans to be meeting in its new location by mid-March, Casciotta said, hopefully sooner.
Landon Woodruff covers the City of Brentwood and Nolensville for the Brentwood Home Page.