By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
After two decades, the Church at Canyon Creek is now the Austin Stone Northwest.
The idea was first considered by the Church at Canyon Creek in April to merge the church families together, said Matt Blackwell, who is the new campus pastor for Austin Stone Northwest.
“This part of the city is rapidly growing and we need for more churches to grow,” said Blackwell, who was the pastor at the Austin Stone in South Austin for eight years prior to transitioning to the local congregation and its 21-acre campus at 9001 RM 620 N.
Austin Stone has five other campuses in Greater Austin.
The leadership at both Church at Canyon Creek and at Austin Stone began praying about the idea: “Would this be a good partnership,” Blackwell said.
The Church at Canyon Creek began considering options after their former senior pastor left earlier in the year and they started to look for a new senior pastor, said Damon Andrews, executive pastor.
Andrews has been executive pastor with the congregation since its beginning some two decades ago. It began as Cypress Creek Baptist Church, then the Church at Canyon Creek and now Austin Stone Northwest.
“We had been praying for some time that God would do something big in our church. We were open to whatever God would do,” Andrews said. “The idea was proposed to us by one of our members about partnering with another church, specifically Austin Stone.”
The Church at Canyon Creek investigated the idea more in depth last spring.
“Seeing the combination of location and facilities we have here with the broader resources and vision of Austin Stone, we thought it would be a great marriage and partnership with great hopes of what we can do out here,” Andrews said.
Blackwell added that Austin Stone is a church that is affiliated with Southern Baptist and Acts 29, which is a diverse, global family of church planting churches.
“We have a mission that loves God, loves the church, loves the city, and loves the nations,” Blackwell said. Austin Stone focuses on, among other things, the 59 or so passages in the Bible that focus on loving one another.
Blackwell said leadership at Austin Stone found the idea for the Church at Canyon Creek to become Austin Stone as an “opportunistic” idea.
“The Lord brought it, and we sought it out,” Blackwell said. “The Church at Canyon Creek was gracious and humble.”
As of earlier this month, about half, or 170, of the former Church at Canyon Creek members have transitioned to becoming Austin Stone members, Andrews said.
The official change of the church will be celebrated on January 12 after renovations are finished.
“They have had a fantastic facility (here) since 2003,” Blackwell added.
The two buildings at the RM 620 site equal some 50,000-square-feet including the 800-seat worship center and the two-story education building.
Renovations on the facilities are totalling some $750,000 and began in early November including painting, technological upgrades, system improvements and the latest in audio/visual equipment, that costs close to $250,000 alone, Andrews said.
“We want to be a good neighbor, we want to be part of this part of the city,” Blackwell said.
He said they plan to continue to open their doors for the community including for preschool and meetings such as homeowner association meetings
Blackwell, his wife, Shannon, and three sons moved to Grandview Hills in October to be closer to the campus. They lived in South Austin for 14 years prior to their move.
“We’re glad to be living and raising our family in this beautiful part of Austin,” he said.