Church’s addition multi-faceted

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – First Baptist Church of LaPlace will celebrate the long-awaited completion of its new children’s wing and fellowship hall on Sunday with a good old-fashioned dinner on the grounds. The dedication ceremony is set to follow morning worship service and should begin around 11:45 a.m.

The FBC staff is excited about the $1.6 million facility and plans use it to expand its ministry and host more church-wide events on site. But for long-time members of the church family, the wing represents much more than a 15,000 square foot building adjacent to the sanctuary – it’s the fulfillment of a project that’s been sketched out and dreamt of for many years.  

Among other things, the facility will serve as the home of Wee Care, the church’s weekday preschool ministry for children ages 1 through 4, when it resumes Sept. 2. The building’s eight large classrooms already came in handy over the summer when the church hosted its annual Vacation Bible School.

The building also features a large fellowship hall and kitchen that can be used for things like wedding receptions and other gatherings.

“For the first time in many years, the church has a fellowship hall large enough for everyone to gather for activities,” said Rev. Sandy Sherman, minister of education and administration at FBC. “Previously, the church would have to rent space somewhere for those occasions or use the old fellowship hall in shifts.”

Shifting the Wee Care classrooms to the new building also frees up some additional space for the youth department and the Ebenezer Spanish Mission on the other side of the church.

Construction of the new facility, which began in March of last year, has, for the most part, been complete now for a few months. But the church originally envisioned being able to move into the building about two years ago.

Groundbreaking for the wing took place shortly before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But that’s when things changed.

Sherman said the church shifted its focus immediately after the storm to housing and assisting refugees. The American Red Cross as well as the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans counted on FBC and its facilities at that time. “There was a concentration on ministry,” Sherman said. “We couldn’t focus on getting back to construction and, like everything else at the time in Southeastern Louisiana, it just didn’t happen.”

The storm also complicated the price of construction, which prompted the church to adjust some of its building plans, Sherman said.

But those delays and setbacks are now a thing of the past. The church recently completed a large-scale renovation of its sanctuary in which, among other things, new carpet was laid and traditional pews were swapped for individual, theater-style seats.  

And the new children’s wing is a step in the same direction. Sherman said the facility would be especially key in reaching more families in the area that have smaller children. “The church knows that if it’s going to be effective in ministering to families, it’s got to meet their needs.”