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Chapel will be the centerpiece of TMC campus


CLEVELAND – Dr. Phil Calvert, visiting professor of missions, used Zachariah 8:6 as the launching pad for his devotion to the Truett-McConnell trustees on March 30, saying, “We are leaving a wicked mess to our children and grandchildren.

“The Anabaptists of the Alps lived in unbiblical times in their day and the Anabaptists of the Appalachians live in unbiblical times today. But many of our students here at Truett-McConnell are counting the cost of discipleship and are willing to die for their faith. They need to know that their forefathers will stand behind them. We must say to them, ‘We’ve got your back’.”

Gerald Harris/Index

Paul Eitel, left, of Focus Design Builders, and TMC President Emir Caner, right, display an architectural rendering of the Cleveland College’s 2,250-seat chapel. President Caner hopes construction on the $17 million facility can begin later this year.

Following Calvert’s admonition the trustees heard TMC senior Marla Johnson who said, “People ask, ‘why would you want to come to a Baptist College secluded in the North Georgia Mountains?’ The answer is simple: God ‘s hand is on this school.”

TMC President Emir Caner gave his report by highlighting the foundation that had been set in the past four years. He explained, “Missions is the centerpiece of who we are; and all faculty now adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message and our Four Pillars of Faith.”

Caner stated, “Four years ago we had 13 baccalaureate programs and now we have 41.

“Our primary focus is serving local churches to equip students to fulfill their call according to Ephesians 4.” Caner also mentioned that fourteen TMC students had made a commitment to knock on every door in White County in the next two years to present the Gospel.

The TMC president also outlined a strategic building plan, which he and his cabinet had developed. The plan, proposed by Focus Design Builders, LLC of Wake Forest, NC, includes a 2250-seat chapel with fine arts and banquet hall wings and a student recreation center with an estimated cost of over $30 million.

Caner explained that the chapel would have a large altar area so that students and faculty could tarry there in order to do business with God. He also noted that the chapel would have portals to honor great Anabaptists like Balthasar Hubmaier and Felix Manz as well as leaders of the Southern Baptist Conservative Resurgence.

Preparing trustees with the choices of how to move forward with the master plan, Caner stated, “We can do one of four things. “Number one, we can do nothing. Secondly, we can choose to build only the chapel. Thirdly, we can build the chapel with one or two wings. Or, we can decide to build the whole enchilada.”


Dream to become a reality

Caner remarked, “The chapel is a dream that has been held in check for 45 years. I want the chapel to become the spiritual centerpiece of our campus. He admitted that he was not a risk taker and felt at peace with the trustees moving forward with the entire project, but was only comfortable with the construction of the chapel at the present time.

After some discussion the trustees concluded that the chapel should be constructed as soon as possible, because of its spiritual significance and the fine arts wing should be included in the first phase of construction, due to their growing music program. The trustees entertained a motion to approve the total package in principle, but voted to proceed with the chapel and the fine arts center at an estimated cost of $17 million, pending financing and donations.

All of this is a great step of faith. God’s favor is on Truett McConnell College. The college has experienced unprecedented growth since Dr. Caner’s arrival and this requires new buildings to accommodate the new students and faculty. God-size blessings require God-size faith, but where God guides, God provides. The leadership has taken that step of faith, fully confident that God will provide the resources for this significant project.

In an interview with The Index, Caner cast the dream of what the chapel would accomplish: “Imagine a college setting where preachers proclaimed Christ’s death and resurrection for the sins of the whole world. Imagine a chapel specifically drawn to encourage the altar call and allow students to respond to God’s calling upon their lives. Imagine a place that will reignite biblically trained musicians for our local churches. Believing in the support of Baptists around the nation, the dream can become reality.”