The church, formerly Springhead Baptist, is celebrating its “replanting” on Sunday and will debut its new-look interior for the public.
Springhead Baptist Church served its slice of the greater Plant City area for more than 114 years. The church would normally hold its annual homecoming event every October and the building should be full of life and celebration this Sunday as planned.
But there’s one big difference: rather than focusing on the 114th anniversary of Springhead Baptist, this will be a celebration of the first year of GraceWay Church
Springhead Baptist was officially retired at the end of 2019. On Jan. 1, Pastor DeWayne Howard and his staff officially began operating it as GraceWay, which was the first major step in the church’s “replanting” process.
“I came here 14 months ago, Aug. 1, 2019,” Howard said. “There were 40 people, everybody 75 and above. No kids, no teenagers, no young families. They were out of money. All they had was a building. Within two months, they would have closed their doors. When I came here, I came with the understanding that I wasn’t coming here to die — I was coming here to bring new life. In order to do that, we were gonna take whatever steps were needed to make that happen.”
Howard calls this a replant because GraceWay is using Springhead’s existing building and facilities, but it has otherwise opted to start completely fresh. This is a new church with new leadership, new staff, new goals and a largely new congregation.
Renovations started in January and GraceWay opted to start indoors. The foyer has been refreshed and livened up, new flooring has been installed and a fresh coat of paint has been applied. The children’s and youth areas have come a long way, which will enhance the children’s and student ministries the church has brought along. But the biggest thing people will notice is the new-look sanctuary, which has been almost completely redone from floor to ceiling. GraceWay upgraded the main stage, got all new seating, changed the floor’s carpeting, added stained glass motifs to the windows for a traditional vibe, installed new streaming, sound and lighting systems and added a cherry on top in the form of an eye-catching, backlit cross as the centerpiece of the stage’s backdrop. The wood-paneled ceiling was left untouched, but the lighting and sound rigs that used to criss-cross along it have been cleaned up. GraceWay will use the existing projectors until they go out, at which point the church will get LED panels.
Outdoor renovations to landscaping, the roadside sign, the building exterior and more, Howard said, should “hopefully” be done within the next year.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have made things complicated for the church, but it didn’t stop progress. Howard and the staff transitioned to outdoor services and continued to grow the congregation, which eclipsed 115 people by March. GraceWay is aiming to get more young people and families in the building, but all are welcome.
Now that restrictions have eased and the church is celebrating its new beginning, Howard said the Plant City community will see GraceWay members actively lending a helping hand around town more often. The church has worked with the United Food Bank of Plant City, Pregnancy Care Center and more already, but that’s just the beginning.
GraceWay invites anyone interested to stop by the church, 3106 S. Wiggins Road, at 11 a.m. Sunday to celebrate, worship and maybe even find their new safe haven.
“For us, it really doesn’t matter how you are, where you’ve been or what you’ve done,” Howard said. “We all have a past. But we all have a future. We’re focused on the ‘grace way,’ which is the future. We’re pointing people to God’s grace and leading them to become fully devoted followers of Christ. That’s really who we are.”
For more information, visit graceway365.com.