Church of the Year
New Image Center emerges from
a vision to reality
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Pastor David Eggleston has a reputation for being a listener so he obviously heard when another minister suggested where he should look to find a location to establish a church.
The recommendation, which came during a lunch meeting, was for him to find his spot on the outskirts of Tallahassee.
Eggleston was taken aback and immediately began talking to God about the situation.
“I got in my car, and I said, ‘Lord, why do we have to move out into the country and the heathens get to have the city,’ ” is how Eggleston recalled starting the conversation with his higher power.
The response he got was to keep looking and believing.
“From that point on,” Eggleston said, “I started saying we are going to have a church in the middle of Tallahassee on a main street.”
In 2017, he found a vacant building that housed the former Badcock Furniture store at 1140 West Tharpe Street. He named it New Image Christian Center.
The 13,000-square foot rectangular building is everything that Eggleston and his congregation envisioned when they worshiped at a storefront location near the intersection of Capital Circle and Apalachee Parkway. They also got a huge parking area on a 1-acre lot.
When Eggleston started preaching 17 years ago, he held services from a 600-square foot space off Victory Garden. Growth has been constant at the Tharpe Street location and the center has become more visible in the community.
That visibility and work that the members of New Image Center have done make it the Capital Outlook’s choice as Church of the Year for a second time in two years.
In part, New Image’s growth could be attributed to the work that it does in the community. They’ve worked with convalescence homes, proving essential needs for elderly residents.
Last Thanksgiving the church engaged in a huge food drive. Members financed most of the 250 bags of food that was given away, including gift cards for purchasing turkeys.
Inside of New Image Center is laid out with classrooms at the right side of the entrance. There is a café that is operated by member Michael Gordon.
The sanctuary is situated just off a lobby near the café. An administration area that includes Eggleston’s office is located right off the sanctuary.
The café has become an after-church gathering spot, following the Sunday service that begins at 9:30 a.m. Members generally have conversations over menu items like burgers, hot dogs and chips.
Usually they get to that point after hearing Eggleston preach for about 90 minutes. Members always find Eggleston’s style of preaching engaging and aren’t eager to leave, said his wife, Margaret.
“You won’t see a lot of people jumping up because they are writing notes,” she said. “It’s more educational and edifying.”
More than a handful of relationships were started around the café. Some have blossomed into families.
Taquorra and Rashad Kearney, who have been married since 2014 first met in 2009 at the previous location before the move to Tharpe Street. Both participate in different missions at the church.
Taquorra, a registered nurse, works with the social media, serves as usher/greeter and assists in the café at times. Rashad, a corrections officer, helps out with the media team.
Both are also regular participants in the church’s marriage ministry program Closer than Close.
Taquorra said the support she and her husband get from other church members is like family.
“I’ve seen people come and go, but there are a lot of people who stayed and we are all pretty close,” she said. “I’ve met friends there and my husband. So there are a lot of people I can rely on.”
Eggleston said he doesn’t keep an exact count on membership. However, he is constantly making plans for growth
All that is part of a vision, Eggleston said, reflecting back on his search for a church location. In 2012, five years before the church was located on Tharpe Street, Eggleston said he was led to 10 acres of land off Capital Circle near Tallahassee Airport.
Today a rendering of the campus that Eggleston envisions hangs in the Tharpe Street building. Plans for use of the property will come true, just like it did when the church searched for its current location, Eggleston said.
“I’m always putting vision in front of people because if there is no vision the people will perish,” he said. “If they can’t see where they are going they are not going to go anywhere. So as pastor it’s my job to cast visions and have people jump on board and we can live into the vision.”