Pastor Len Browning stands Monday in the new, $2.5 million sanctuary expansion at The Journey at First Baptist. The expansion is the first major renovation to the church since 1975.

Photo by Brian Smith

Pastor Len Browning stands Monday in the new, $2.5 million sanctuary expansion at The Journey at First Baptist. The expansion is the first major renovation to the church since 1975.

Journey at First Baptist church completes expansion

Journey at First Baptist hosts inaugural service in new space

The Journey at First Baptist congregation can now stretch its legs a bit more.

After breaking ground in June 2009, the church has completed its new sanctuary addition months ahead of schedule.

The $2.5 million expansion added more than 14,000 square feet to the existing 9,200-square-foot space on Ninth Street.

The church hosted its first service in the new space Sunday.

“This is a very exciting time for our church,” pastor Len Browning said. “People are very excited, and there is a great, enthusiastic spirit.”

A third of the money for the addition came from member pledges and the rest from bond sales and short-term financing, Browning said.

The old sanctuary is being renovated into a nursery and children’s center.

Browning said the new addition “better enabled the church to use the old facility.”

The nearly 500-seat new sanctuary features a fully computerized soundboard, lighting, projector and software.

Since 2005, the church has seen about 20 percent growth per year in members, Browning said.

When the congregation grew to more than 200 hundred in 2007, Browning knew it was time for an expansion.

Sunday’s included about 375 residents, Browning said.

Jim Dodd, of Dodd & Dodd Consulting, served as the owner’s representatives for the church project.

Dodd said the new addition is not only a sign of growth but of progress.

“We don’t measure success by the physical things in our lives but rather by the lives changed,” he said. “We are trying to change relationships with the Lord. The building is just a tool.”

The Journey offers various services to the community outside of regular worship. One of its most popular, Celebrate Recovery, is a Christian centered, 12-step recovery program designed to help people overcome “hurts, habits and hang-ups.”

The building had not seen a major renovation project since 1975.

The expansion also features a basement that will be converted into classrooms and offices.

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or briansmith@craigdailypress.com.

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