Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, and the accompanying ripple effect has been felt in many areas.
That includes the faith community, and leaders of one of Northwest Arkansas’ largest church congregations have taken the preliminary fundraising and development steps to build a third facility.
Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas has requested a lot split and conditional use permit to build a church at the corner of Tiger Boulevard and McCollum Road in Bentonville, west of Interstate 49. The site is just east of the Chapel Hill neighborhood, approximately one mile from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
According to Benton County property records, two parcels of land on Tiger Boulevard totaling roughly 25 acres were donated to the Rogers-based church in late August.
The previous landowners were Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon and his wife Shelly (14.67 acres), and Phil and Dayna Martz (10.4 acres), son-in-law and daughter of Kansas City Royals owner and retired Wal-Mart Stores CEO David Glass.
A public hearing on the conditional use request will be held Oct. 3 in the Community Development Building in downtown Bentonville.
Fellowship Bible Church is a non-denominational church, according to its website. Its sprawling main campus is at 1051 W. Pleasant Grove Road, east of I-49. It sits among about 104 acres the church owns, according to county property records.
Last year, the church completed a 63,000-square-foot building on 26 acres southwest of Van Asche Drive and Arkansas 112, across the street from the 112 Drive-In in Fayetteville, just north of Sam’s Club.
In a video on the church website announcing the Fellowship Bentonville project, Mickey Rapier, the church’s directional leader, said 15 months after opening its Fayetteville campus, services in Rogers are again at capacity.
He said the Bentonville facility would be similar to the new church in Fayetteville. Over a four-year period, the church raised $13.25 million to pay for the Fellowship Fayetteville campus, which is drawing more than 2,000 worshippers each week, Rapier said.
“Cost can be only estimated [for Fellowship Bentonville], but we can only predict it will be as much or more than the Fayetteville campus,” Rapier said in the video. “Construction won’t begin until a significant portion of the needed funds are raised.”
The church holds its Fellowship Bentonville Community Worship on the fourth Sunday of the month at the Rogers campus as a way to connect specifically with the Bentonville community. In the video, Rapier said there are about 5,000 individuals and 2,500 families in the Bentonville region who are members of Fellowship Bible Church.
The state’s largest church congregation is also in the midst of an expansion project in the region. Springdale-based Cross Church, which has four locations throughout Northwest Arkansas and another in southwest Missouri, is building a 57,500-square-foot building on a 16.3-acre site at the southeast corner of Wedington Drive and Interstate 49 in Fayetteville. Construction began last October and is nearing completion.
The project was announced to churchgoers in January 2015, following a $3.15 million land purchase by two Springdale businessmen that opened the door for the church to begin planning an additional campus.
Donnie Smith, then-president and CEO of Tyson Foods Inc., and Travis Ruff, co-founder of Milestone Construction Co., bought nine acres, with a stipulation that the property owners also donate adjoining acreage to Cross Church for development purposes. James Family Properties LLLP, formerly known as Thomas F. James Realty LP of Little Rock, was the previous owner of the land.
Construction of a new facility will address overcrowding issues at Cross Church’s current Fayetteville location on West Wedington Drive, where parking is a significant issue.
The congregation there meets in a 15,750-SF retail center, known as The Shoppes at Wedington, and hosts more than 2,000 people each Sunday across four services, according to the church.
Cross Church was ranked the 43rd largest church in America this year by Outreach magazine, with weekly worship attendance of 8,959.