Religion

First Baptist's Second Story aimed at CSU students

Brooke Rumford, front, and Molly McCune paint the interior of a large space in downtown Columbus for opening a new downtown ministry called Second Story. It is aimed at college students and young professionals. Below, Chris Scrivner, front, and Claire Maddox paint the same space.
Brooke Rumford, front, and Molly McCune paint the interior of a large space in downtown Columbus for opening a new downtown ministry called Second Story. It is aimed at college students and young professionals. Below, Chris Scrivner, front, and Claire Maddox paint the same space. Mike Haskey

The Rev. Jimmy Elder says it is a long tradition of the church to go where the people are and touch their lives.

That is what First Baptist Church in Columbus is doing with a new walk-in ministry. Second Story is scheduled to open officially Feb. 1.

The pastor called Second Story an "exciting bold move off campus" for First Baptist, one of the oldest churches in the city. Second Story is aimed at college students and young professionals.

The official address is 1100 Broadway, but the entrance is on 11th Street. It is located in a former dance studio above Freeze Frame Yogurt Shoppe, and workers have been toiling for weeks to get it ready, painting and bringing in furniture.

Elder called the corner location the "Times Square of Columbus."

"We will be right in the hub where everything is happening," he said. "Concerts are held there. Big bike rides and runs begin there. It is where the young people are, and that is where we need to be."

It is not far from where First Baptist is located on 12th Street.

Second Story Director Brandon Strozier, 34, has served as college and youth minister at First Baptist for about 10 years. A graduate of Mercer University, Strozier is leaving a position with a family business, Omega Mapping Services, to lead the ministry. He called his new role "exciting and daunting."

"The church just sees downtown exploding," he said. "There are more people down here than ever before. We are providing a space for conversation and connection. We plan to be another piece of the fabric of downtown. We want to be a good neighbor to the businesses here and hope to partner with similar ministries downtown."

In its space, Second Story will feature books, games and an area for food preparation.

Strozier said Second Story will be well suited for study and fellowship.

He said some music majors, of which there are quite a few downtown, might even want to use the space to practice.

Elder said students taking the bus from the main campus may especially find Second Story useful. Strozier said meetings and Bible studies will be held in the 4,500-square-foot building, most of which is two large rooms.

"We are tailoring the place for our audience," said Strozier, who will also be working outside of Second Story trying to meet the needs of the people in the community.

He agrees with Elder about the location.

"It is strategically located for us to mission to the community," Strozier said.

He mentioned a First Baptist mission on Victory Drive that works for the people in that community.

Elder said he had been thinking about such a ministry as Second Story for years, and this seems to be the perfect time to do it with the Columbus State University College of Education and Health Professions moving into a new building being constructed at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street.

Scheduled to be occupied in the fall, the school will bring 1,800 students, faculty and staff downtown.

Elder said he met with Strozier to discuss the plans for Second Story and whom the church might get to run it. At that meeting, he found Strozier to be interested in the position.

"He had a great experience with our student ministry," Elder said. "He really connects with young people."

And Strozier is ready to begin.

"I thought a mission for students was a good idea," he said. "But I never imagined a place like this."

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