Rock City Church in Birmingham has purchased the main worship center on the former Southeastern Bible College campus on Valleydale Road in Shelby County.
Pastor Mike McClure Jr. said Rock City bought the church building campus, not including nearby college dormitories, for $4.25 million from Carolina University.
“I think it will be the new main campus,” McClure said. “We’re still praying about if we’re going to move everything here.”
Southeastern Bible College suspended operations in 2017 and merged with Piedmont International University, which was run by the John Wesley University board of directors. In 2018, John Wesley University joined the Carolina University network of schools.
Rock City plans to move its services into the sanctuary, what was originally Valleydale Baptist Church before it moved west down Valleydale Road closer to Interstate 65.
“Our dream goal is Easter weekend,” McClure said of the potential opening service in Rock City’s new building.
On Monday morning, McClure and staff from Rock City were walking through the campus surveying what renovations needed to be done.
The Bible college did not operate during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“The pandemic just caused a nationwide reset,” McClure said. “It’s been vacant now three years. We just got all the lights on. They’re working on HVAC and all of that now.”
The former Bible college had simply been put on hold.
“The library is still intact,” McClure said. “I just had a blast in the library, looking at old commentaries and hymnals.”
McClure said he had been looking for property in the area in 2019, before the pandemic shut down in-person worship at Rock City’s Forestdale campus for two years.
“Four years ago, I started coming over here looking, trying to make something happen, and hit some speed bumps,” McClure said. “The pandemic slowed a lot down.”
Rock City will keep its Forestdale location, but it was too small to contain attendance at services, forcing overflow situations, McClure said.
“We love being part of the community in Birmingham with our Forestdale campus,” McClure said. “I call it the womb. That’s where everything was birthed.”
In 2018, Rock City obtained the Central Baptist Church and School property in west Birmingham through a donation.
“We’re looking to sell our Central Park campus,” McClure said.
Rock City has also extended its reach outside the Birmingham metro area.
“We just recently planted an affiliate church in Nashville, One City Church, and planted another affiliate in Montgomery, Destiny City Church,” McClure said.
The Valleydale Road campus is an answer to a prayer, he said.
“I’m excited,” McClure said. “We’ve just been waiting on a place that we can call home.”