By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
BOSSIER CITY – Members of the First Baptist Church in Bossier City are facing a “new normal” after a fire destroyed 75 percent of their facilities, but Pastor Brad Jurkovich believes the congregation’s greatest days are ahead.
“We will move forward and rebuild,” Jurkovich said Dec. 16 during the first Sunday worship service following the devastating fire. “And I believe God will use First Bossier to reach thousands for Jesus in the coming years.”
On Dec. 10 a three-alarm fire began at 5:30 a.m., originating with an uninterruptible power supply backup battery for a computer. The flames began in an office space near Faith Chapel — the original worship center — and spread quickly to the attic and other buildings including the childcare center and various youth facilities. About 65 firefighters fought the blaze, finally extinguishing it about 3:30 p.m. that same day.
The congregation held a meeting in the Bossier Civic Center on Wednesday, Dec. 12, to pray, worship and organize for recovery, but the Sunday service was the first post-fire gathering on campus.
There was an extended time for expressing gratitude to first responders and thanking officials for their support Dec. 16, but Jurkovich brought the service back into focus, calling this time in the life of the congregation “a generational moment.”
“How we respond these first seven days, how we respond these next seven months, will really set a tone for the future of this ministry with our prayer, our faith, our hope,” he said. “I get excited about dreaming of building and developing ministry to reach even more people for Jesus.”
During the Jan. 6 service Jurkovich said church staff met with their insurance company to determine how to clear the damage, and he outlined plans for its children’s and student ministries and adult Bible study groups:
— The children’s ministry will use part of the Tiny Town preschool area, the foyer and additional preschool space until a new children’s facility is built.
— The student ministry will meet in an area near the worship center for Sunday morning Bible study and Wednesday night worship until a new facility is constructed for them.
— Adult Bible study groups will use a nearby facility and the Bossier Civic Center, located about a block behind the First Bossier campus, until a new multi-purpose venue is erected.
Funding will be provided by insurance money and gifts that members give toward the building projects.
Jurkovich said the church hopes to unveil the plans for its new facilities by Easter and to break ground soon afterward.
Additionally, the church established a new mission emphasis in the days following the fire. After the Dec. 16 service, more than 300 ladies from First Bossier came forward to sign up to be a part of First Women Strong. They inaugurated the ministry by delivering food to fire stations throughout Bossier City and Shreveport as a way of expressing gratitude to the first responders.
“I want to say to all the kids in the room today, one day soon you will have a brand new children’s facility that will rock,” he said during the Dec. 16 service. “To all the students today, one day soon you will have a brand new student facility that will rock. While there will be a “new normal” for First Bossier it will be exciting to see people step up, serve, give and grow as we reach people for Jesus and rebuild this campus for the future.”
First Bossier has requested information on assisting the church should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.