Airline Baptist church leaders and congregants gathered Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of its new children's building.
“It's an awesome day,” Bro. Chad Mills, senior pastor, said as the crowd erupted in applause.
The project was unanimously approved almost a year ago, but has been a need at the church for much longer. Mills said the church raised enough funds to build a 20,000 square foot, two-story facility with an enclosed walkway connected to other buildings.
“We have been needing to do this for a while because we are out of education space,” Mills said. “The purpose of this building is to serve the education needs of the children, whether it's Sunday school or preschool, in a state-of-the-art building. This will give us more space in a secure location.”
As it stands now, Sunday school and preschool classrooms are are spread out throughout other areas of the church. Mills said children, workers and parents use many entry ways and exits on the church grounds.
However, the new building will house all of the children in one secured location.
“No one will have access to that building unless they are parents or workers,” Mills said.
Sharon Warner, children's and young families minister, said she is looking forward to the day when all of her children will be together under one roof.
“Right now, there are too many entrances,” Warner said. “We are very excited.”
Mills said the walkway will not only elevate the security, but improve foot traffic on the grounds.
“Right now, you're literally out in the elements. There is a covered awning, but there's nothing protecting you from wind, rain or cold weather,” Mills said. “This new walkway will be air conditioned and heated with complete access to all the buildings without having to step outside.”
Just before breaking ground, Mills scripture from the book of Nehemiah, announcing chapter two verse 18 as their theme for the project. He said the church has spent the last year planning, preparing and praying for the day they could begin working on the project.
“When the people looked around and saw the need, they sought the Lord and started to build,” Mills said. “Let us rise up and build!”
Along with a new building, Mills said there will be some renovation work done on existing classroom space, which he hopes will improve the overall appearance of the church.
“This is a win-win for our church,” Mills said.
The new two-story building will feature a welcome center, covered drop-off area, secured entry way to childcare areas, 17 classrooms and a nursery, two playrooms, teacher resource center and preparation area, activity area, restrooms and an elevator. The building is projected to be completed in 10 months and open in time for the new school year.
Bruce Edwards, minister of education, said the new building will allow the church to minister to more families and develop more ministries for children.
“When you work on something and pray for something for five years and it finally takes place, it's just a wonderful blessing from God,” Edwards said. “We've done it.”
Mills said there will be another celebration when the building opens next year. Airline Baptist Church is located at 4007 Airline Drive in Bossier City.