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If he builds it, will they come?
The slightly reordered line from the movie “Field of Dreams” seems to fit the Rev. Dennis Aud’s situation.
Only, instead of a baseball diamond, Aud and his contemporary Westside Community Church flock are building a diamond of a worship facility — a 24,000-square-foot, 700-seat, $5 million multipurpose building on 31 acres at Tipton Lakes Boulevard and Jonathan Moore Pike.
Aud, 57, pastor of the 10-year-old congregation, said he sees the structure as Westside’s way to reach more people with God’s love through additional outreaches and programs. He wants one of those to be an after-school gathering, perhaps in tandem with a new Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. elementary school planned an on adjacent site.
“We are trying to move in God’s perfect timing,” Aud said.
He has aimed to do that in his own life, choosing with wife, Karen, to leave 31 years of established denominational ministry with both the General Baptist and United Methodist churches — and in 2003 launch Westside with four other couples and no promises.
It now boasts a weekly attendance of about 250 people in the West Hill Shopping Center on Jonathan Moore Pike.
The church’s theme on all its materials: “Keeping faith simple.”
You prepared for all this for years by attending conferences and even taking training in the Duke Divinity School of Congregational Development. Why all that kind of work?
The opportunity to launch a church is a rare privilege that few pastors have. I didn’t want to take it lightly, should the opportunity ever arise.
Why this location?
For many years — 15 to 20 years — I had felt God’s nudging to plant a church. And my interest heightened since moving to Columbus in 1999 and noticing there were relatively few churches on the west side of town. The need was obvious.
Does it seem like the right spot?
When we bought the property, there was nothing but an open field there. Now, the (residential) development has simply exploded all around us.
You collected nearly enough money in a single Thanksgiving Sunday service in 2005 to buy the property?
It was very much a God thing. But we were given a good, favorable price. And anything I’ve ever been to regarding church plants is that 20 acres (for growth) is a minimum when you build. If you do that, you’re doing your future generations a favor.
So what about future growth?
We certainly will want to accommodate new people and be prepared to assimilate them into our body of believers. We want to be able to get them into small groups and help them create friendships and relationships. So, I’m hoping for a slower, gradual growth.
We see lots of new programming. Part of what we even hope to have on the grounds would be soccer fields or other similar things that would make us a community-friendly place within the growing neighborhood. The opportunities for growth, I believe, are remarkable.
How have you remained so upbeat during a building campaign?
We have a great building team, and they have largely carried the ball. And it helps that this is an in-house project.
So, if you build it, will they indeed come?
(Laughter). Yes, we sure hope so.
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