ELIZABETHTOWN—After more than two years, the congregation of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown held their first worship Sunday morning service in a new worship center on Dec. 9.
The years leading up to this day were spent praying, designing and constructing the new structure that took around a year and a half to build, Pastor Bill Langley said.
"Our people have been a part of the process every step of the way," Langley told the News-Enterprise.
The church typically has two worship services, but all members met together in one service for the dedication of the building. Everyone together for one service hasn't happened in a while, Langley said.
While that Sunday was the dedication, Dec. 16 was the worship center's grand opening and Christmas celebration.
The dedication was something special for the church members, Langley said. There were special guests like the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood and Kentucky Baptist Convention Co-Interim Executive Director Curtis Woods, Elizabethtown Mayor-elect Jeff Gregory, and the church's former pastor Billy Compton. Langley called it a celebration for the family of Severns Valley.
Church members and visitors saw many new things in the facility.
The original plans for the new worship center had it located where the main parking lot is and it was going to have 2,200 seats, Langley said.
The building team, with help of Visioneering Studios in Nashville, Tenn., created plans to move the auditorium in front of the church to better engage the community, he said.
The pond in front of the church was drained to create a lawn. Langley said it's a space that can be used for many activities such as Vacation Bible School, camps and family-friendly movies in warmer months.
The main auditorium space was scaled back to 1,400 seats, which Langley said is the new standard for large churches. Big stadium type churches have been replaced with smaller auditoriums that have multiple service times or satellite campuses that create a more intimate feel rather than the masses of people, he said.
The technology used in the new facility will be some of the best in the state, Langley said. "There is an LED wall that will be a tremendous asset," he said.
While preaching he can have any image on the screen. Langley said it won't be overused or distracting but will serve as an aid to worship.
For seating, the building committee chose not to have a balcony. The center has movable chairs on a flat-floor near the stage and risers with stationary theater seats. Floor seating is designed to be moved for conferences, banquets and other needs, Langley said.
"This is an auditorium that not only will we use as a church but will be used by others as well," he said. "There's not a bad seat in the house, doesn't matter if you are on the floor or in the back seat"
The project cost about $16.5 million, which included not only the worship center but also the cost of the lawn, two parking lots and some renovations in the children and youth areas, Langley said.
The new facility also has four classrooms, a nursing mothers room and other spaces that can be used for fellowship and storage.
The former worship space will continue to be a multi-purpose room used as a gym, Celebrate Recovery will still meet there, children and youth will use it and banquets still can be held in the space.
"We couldn't do this without the support of our people," Langley said.
Members have not only financially supported the church, but also stepped in to help with whatever was needed.
Church members have been in the sanctuary cleaning inside and out, he said, and they've been setting up new furnishings and moving things from the previous space into the new worship center.
But with all the excitement about the new center, Langley said it's not about the building.
"That building is a tool that we can utilize the best we can to help us reach, teach, disciple and send out into the world to make disciples," Langley said.
Becca Owsley writes for the News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown in which this article first appeared.