By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Just in time to host the 2018 Louisiana Baptist Convention Evangelism Conference, Jan. 22-23, First Baptist Church, Pineville, has completed Phase One of its largest building renovation effort since 1997.
After two years of planning, the $5 million project started in 2015 has given a major facelift to every building on its campus during the first of several planned stages of construction and updates.
Among the most notable improvements, so far, are the new carpet, lighting, pews and sound equipment in the worship center, which are complimented by renovated bathrooms and a bride’s room in the lobby area.
New landscaping has been completed as well.
But, other areas of the campus have seen improvements, too: The activities building received a new elevator and expanded restrooms; the fellowship hall was updated with a new stage, sound system, and lighting; the adult education building now has expanded restrooms; the children and preschool areas have new paint and flooring; there is a new playground; and, the church offices are renovated.
Pastor Stewart Holloway said the congregation’s growth from their faithfulness to the vision humbles him.
“From the moment we started developing our master plan to when we developed our first phase, people have been enthusiastic, they’ve been completely supportive,” he said. “They have been generous in their giving and they have been generous in helping if there is a project that needed to be done. All of that has been really amazing. The unity that our congregation has experienced through this building project has been something that I think would make the Lord really proud.”
Originally, the project was to cost about $1.9 million.
But when Holloway came before the church to present the plans that consisted mostly of updates and repairs the congregation voted to expand the renovations to include more extensive renovations and additions to the sanctuary and an elevator modernization – at a price tag of $5 million.
Since Holloway became pastor of the church in 2008, the congregation has paid in full $1.1 million in old debt while resident membership has increased from 1,061 to 1,520, according to church records.
“All of that is a God thing,” Holloway said. “The project has been God-sized in terms of money and God-sized in terms of the amount of things we’ve been able to accomplish. Every building on our campus has had something done to it. Most of them have had some major work completed.
“The sanctuary is the largest of the projects and is the culmination of it all,” he continued. “And it really captures everything we wanted to see done in this first phase, which is to make way for future generations, to bring up the building to modern standards and set us for some future growth.”
Phase Two will include additional parking to accommodate Sunday morning worshippers and attendees of special events such as the ECON 2018. Until then, FBC will use nearby parking lots and a shuttle to transport participants who park even further away.
“We look forward to using our facilities as an effective tool for ministry to the people of Central Louisiana and beyond,” Holloway said.