Educational Media Foundation broke ground on its new global headquarters outside of Nashville in the Berry Farms community of Franklin, Tenn., on Friday, May 27. EMF CEO Bill Reeves said, “I really feel like we’re standing on sacred ground here. I feel like God brought us to these 11 acres.”
Bill Corbin, EMF senior pastor and ministry leadership team member, opened the program by welcoming the mayor of Franklin, Dr. Ken Moore, and others, and shared how EMF is excited to be part of the City of Franklin and Williamson County.
“We are honored to partner with you in the advancement of the Kingdom of God,” Corbin said, “to lend support, care and ministry … igniting hope, changing lives and uniting hearts … all in the name of Jesus Christ.
“We’re excited to continue our journey to establish our international headquarters in Middle Tennessee, and we’re honored and humbled to be part of this community.”
Reeves thanked and acknowledged additional government officials, including District 2 County Commissioner Elizabeth “Betsy” Hester, and project partners Strategic Development Group, Hastings Architecture, Boyle, the Berry family, Brasfield & Gorrie, and Kimley Horn.
Reeves also recognized past, present and future EMF board members, leaders, and staff. “These are the folks who tell people about Jesus all around the world,” Reeves said. “I get to be the hood ornament of the organization, but these are the folks who do all of the work. … I am grateful for the team … the people God has brought to us.”
Reeves thanked his predecessors, former EMF CEOs Bob Anthony, Dick Jenkins and Mike Novak. “I never want to forget the legacy of the folks who built this ministry,” Reeves said. “These are the men on whose shoulders we stand today. I know what those three men wanted was to serve the Lord and tell people about Jesus, and that’s what we do. … We’re not just building a building so we can push pencils and spin records – we’re doing it because we’re getting ready for the next generation, and to introduce them to Jesus.”
Gospel recording artist, author and speaker CeCe Winans addressed the crowd next, expressing her excitement about “being a part of something that’s going to make a difference in the Kingdom of God.”
Winans led attendees in an acapella version of “Amazing Grace (Praise God)” and shared, “Without the grace of God, none of us would be here. When you look around and you see what’s happening in our world, it’s heartbreaking. But there’s hope, because as believers in Jesus Christ, we carry the answer. Jesus is the answer, and He will always be the answer – for every generation.”
Winans concluded with prayer. “Lord,” she declared, “we praise You for what You’ve done, we praise You for what You’re doing, and we praise You for what You’re going to do.”
Sam Wallington, EMF vice president of operations and engineering, echoed Corbin, Reeves and Winans, adding, “This land is not another office building project. … What will come out of this property has the power to change this planet. … We are not here to make a name for ourselves, we’re here to [help] make Jesus famous.
“This is a place where we each get to play a part in taking the hope of Jesus to the hurting nation that we live in, as well as the world, through books and film and video and podcast, events and streaming, and yes – radio.”
Wallington prayed for protection over contactors and subcontractors, the City of Franklin, and all involved with the upcoming construction and building efforts.
David Pierce, EMF chief partnership officer, followed by thanking industry partners, friends and content creators. “We’re grateful to God for His grace and patience in leading us,” Pierce said, “and we’re thankful for your partnership – we can’t do what we do without you.
“We’re excited about the past we’ve traveled together … but more excited about the future … and how God is going to pave our way. And we’re just praying that we can continue to honor Him in the things we do.”
Before inviting key attendees to come forward and take part in the symbolic shoveling of loose soil, EMF Board Member Walt Golembeski recited Hosea 10:12 from the Bible (God’s Word Translation), saying, “‘Break new ground. Plant righteousness, and harvest the fruit that your loyalty will produce for Me,’ says the Lord.”
Rick Hoppe, EMF associate pastor, concluded the 45-minute ceremony with prayer and by sharing Joshua 1:9 (New Living Translation) – which he referred to as EMF’s theme for the headquarters relocation project: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”