RIO Revolution Church gives tours of unfinished church building
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
RIO Revolution Church is a step closer to having services in its own facility.
Congregation members, as well as those who have publicly shown an interest, were given the opportunity Sunday afternoon to tour the church’s yet-to-be completed first phase of its new building on East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville.
The first phase of the new facility, scheduled to be completed and tentatively open for services Nov. 1, will feature a state-of-the-art auditorium and media system, as well as a lighting system and new classrooms and offices, plus a coffee shop. The new building is 26,000 square feet, and will have seating for approximately 1,000 people. It sits on 12 acres that was purchased for $650,000.
RIO, which stands for Restoration International Outreach, has been meeting at Heritage High School on Sunday mornings for the last five years. What started as a congregation with just 39 people has now grown into more than 600. The church was a plant of RIO Central, and its first service was held at Heritage on Jan. 7, 2007.
“My thought was let’s bring some of these new people and let them see what’s going on,” said Pacer Hepperly, pastor of RIO Revolution. “We wanted them to see the unfinished product, with the insulation and skeleton of the building like a preview, and hopefully they will be excited.”
The new building is 26,000 square feet, and will have seating for approximately 1,000 people. What started as a congregation with just 39 people has now grown into more than 600.
“I really believe the church is more than a building,” Hepperly said. “The Bible teaches that we are the temple of God — we’re the building. We’re trying to build a platform for ministry to reach the community and reach the world.
“We had a Helping Hands event where we raised $30,000,” Hepperly continued. “People got excited that the money was going towards those children. That’s what were about, helping people in need. But in a bad economy, here we are, building a building.”
Hepperly said further, “I contribute our growth to several things. I worked for the city of Maryville for 20 years as a customer service manager. The Lord called me to pastor, and it was a big step for me because I was in my prime and had a good job and was doing fine. I said, ‘OK God, if you’re really calling me, I’m going to do this.’ As a result of stepping out, I think God honors those risks.
“We came out to the school and had 39 people and tried to excite them,” Hepperly continued. “Our name is Revolution, and our mission is ‘in pursuit of radical change.’ Some are saying the church in America is on the decline, and I refuse to be one of those pastors and one of those churches. I just want to do whatever it takes to generate some energy in the kingdom.”
Chester Richardson, an elder and head of the church’s capital campaign, said the church received a lot of help and many volunteers in order to raise funds for the project, which received a commitment to raise $1.5 million from the congregation.
“This is a big undertaking for a church in a high school to be able to raise that kind of money. It was pretty intense,” Richardson said. “We hired an outside consultant to set up a formula they used and had been successful in, and we tried to work that into the people we have in the East Tennessee community and take it from there.”
Hepperly said he hopes the new facility will help its congregation continue to grow. RIO has eight churches in Blount County and one in Lenoir City.
“It’s not about positions, salaries and the buildings, it’s about people developing to their full potential,” he said. “They should do what’s God called them to do, and we all have a part in that.”