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Remember When . . . Looking back at Stonebriar’s Beginning

December 17th 2012 No comments yet  

Remember WhenIt all started with a short article in the Dallas Morning News announcing that Dr. Chuck Swindoll was going to start a church in Frisco in the fall. Anyone interested was invited to attend a meeting at the Stonebriar Country Club.  Approximately 300 people showed up to the first meeting, including Jim and Diann Gunn. Jim and Diann said that Pastor Chuck ended the meeting with a prayer, “Lord, please forgive me for thinking that no one would show up.”

The beginning of Stonebriar Community Church was a time of uncertainty, but the people involved were certain that the Lord was orchestrating their endeavor. “The first night, we got in the car and knew that this is where we wanted to be. I think a lot of people felt that way,” Diann said. The group stayed at the country club for three weeks. “On the third week, Pastor Chuck said this is our last week here. We don’t know where we will be next week. We will send you a postcard when we figure it out,” Diann remembered. The congregation spent one month at Trinity School before moving to Collin County Community College’s Preston Ridge Campus for two years. “It was nerve-wracking not knowing where you were going to be the next week, but we just knew that God’s hand was in all of this,” Diann said.

Each weekend, Collin County Community College allowed the congregation to use its facilities from Saturday afternoon until Sunday at 2 p.m. “We all met at 4 p.m. on Saturday to unload everything,” Jim recalled “and the minute church was over, we had to start packing.” All of the white plastic chairs used during worship services had to be put back in the storage containers outside.  “I had to take all of the baby stuff home and clean it,” Diann added.

The stage Pastor Chuck preached from was flat risers in the gymnasium. Baptisms were held in the indoor swimming pool at the community college. A basketball was stuck in the rafters, and Pastor Chuck would occasionally refer to it in his sermons. One Sunday, it rained so hard against the metal roof of the gymnasium that no one could hear Pastor Chuck’s sermon. Every Wednesday, the set-up committee met at the Gunn’s house to discuss various problems from the previous Sunday and to make plans for the next services. “Every week was a new challenge,” Jim said, “but everyone had a positive attitude. They knew we were growing. They knew it was something special. Everyone wanted to get in on it.”

The church soon became the fastest-growing church in the United States. “We had to keep buying more chairs!” Diann exclaimed. As plans to construct a new building were enacted, the set-up committee became a 12-person steering committee to plan the new building. The steering committee then evolved into the building committee, which later became the board of elders.

The church thrived with the help of volunteers. “We couldn’t have done it without volunteers,” Jim said, “We got up to 200 volunteers helping on Sundays.” Some of the tasks included mopping the floor, setting up and taking down the chairs, and greeting people on Sunday morning. “It was easy to get people to volunteer. Everyone was so excited,” Diann said. One man, who was in the restaurant business, even brought bagels for the entire church every Sunday. Each week, the bagels would have a different topping. “We couldn’t wait to see what the new topping would be!” Jim laughed.

The Gunns said practically everyone in the congregation volunteered in some way. “It was hard work, but it was so much fun. We were all so thrilled to be there,” Jim recalled, “We jumped in with both feet and tried to make it happen.”

Volunteers continue to be an integral part of our church. If you would like to explore the various ways you can volunteer at Stonebriar, go to our website, [keyword: projectserve] for more information.


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