Spirits are high for Luke Saunders, the newly-minted pastor of the soon-to-be-opened and long anticipated Colonial Hills Church-Hernando campus.
Despite recent rains and a muddy parking lot surrounding the $5 million investment, Saunders stood outside the imposing steel and glass structure like a proud parent.
For Saunders, namesake of the Apostle, the following Scripture seems appropriate.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free …" (Luke 4:18)
Saunders, a Missouri native, arrived at the Southaven campus of Colonial Hills Church more than 18 months ago. Pastor Rick Sayger and the staff helped prepare Saunders for this new journey.
The Colonial Hills Hernando campus has been in the planning stages for more than seven years, six of which have been spent at the church's temporary home at Hernando Middle School. Colonial Hills Church, located on Monteith Drive across the street from Lee's Summit Park, will hold its grand opening Aug. 5.
Saunders is thrilled at the 11-acre campus' high visibility and its close proximity to the park.
"It offers us visibility — transparency," Saunders said. "We didn't just have these large glass windows to let in sunlight but to invite in people in the community — so they can look in and see what we're all about."
A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Saunders received his Master of Divinity degree from Mid-America Seminary in 2010. His wife Caroline and children Adelaide, 4 and Greer, 2, now call Hernando home.
Saunders was raised in a Christian home and knows its importance. His parents met at the Moody Bible Institute.
The nurturing of children will continue to be a major focus at Colonial Hills Church.
"One of our core values is family and teaching our parents they are the primary disciple-makers of our children," Saunders said. "We don't encourage that parents outsource the discipling of their children. We tell them that we will partner with them."
The sprawling new church offers classrooms for 175 children. The sanctuary will seat nearly four times that number.
"It's cultivating whoever will stand on that stage and proclaim the Word of Jesus," Saunders said.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252