By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
BOSSIER CITY, La. (LBM)–The novel coronavirus pandemic has not slowed the rebuilding of the facilities of the First Baptist Church in Bossier City, 17 months after a fire destroyed much of the campus.
“This has been encouraging to the church body and the community around us to see the construction not stop,” Pastor Brad Jurkovich told the Baptist Message. “We have had several people to say it’s been so cool to see new construction going on. I believe this has given our congregation and the area hope in the midst of this pandemic.”
A groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 29, 2019, launched the rise of a new $20 million, 70,000-square-foot building to replace facilities destroyed by an early morning fire on Dec. 10, 2018. The worship center and Tiny Town preschool area were among the few buildings that were not damaged by the fire.
Once complete in the summer of 2021, there will be a new chapel, student center, foyer and event center and space for Sunday school classes and other small groups to meet.
Crews already remodeled the children’s area and replaced 25 offices that were lost in the fire. Currently the worship center, foyer and small group space are undergoing a renovation.
In early May, crews erected steel framing for a facility that will serve as space for additional small group meetings and the foundation was poured for the expanded foyer and special event gathering space.
Jurkovich said the project amid the pandemic is another reminder of how God has helped First Bossier persevere under trying circumstances.
“Our church has been tested already and showed great flexibility to persevere,” he said. “We committed to trust the Lord then, and we trust Him now.
“Even through the pandemic we have sensed a greater sense of community,” he continued. “While we can’t gather, people have been more intentional to stay connected and remain connected. They have appreciated the value of gathering even more.”
First Bossier, which averaged 1,700 people for its in-person services in early March, has since drawn around 2,500 views of its Facebook Live broadcast on Sunday morning. Nine people recently joined the church through a Zoom web-based new membership class. Additionally, church members have organized teams that have served hundreds of meals to area school children weekly. Members also have prepared food boxes for distribution at the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana and have delivered meals to health care workers.
Moving forward, the church plans to continue streaming Sunday morning services online, but on May 31 will hold Sunday evening outdoor worship gatherings on the church’s Freedom Fields athletic complex. The congregation hopes to resume meeting inside their facilities by mid-July.