ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (KT) -- After more than two years, the congregation of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown will have their first worship Sunday morning service in a new worship center.
The years leading up to this weekend were spent praying, designing and constructing the new structure that took around a year and a half to build, the Rev Bill Langley said.
“Our people have been a part of the process every step of the way,” Langley told the New-Enterprise.
The church, at 1100 Ring Road, typically has two worship services but on Sunday, all members will meet together in one service at 10:45 a.m. for the dedication of the building.
Everyone together for one service hasn’t happened in a while, Langley said. There will be overflow space should the 1,400-seat worship center get too crowded.
“I’m looking forward to a tremendous day,” Langley said.
While Sunday is the dedication, Dec. 16 is the worship center’s grand opening and Christmas celebration which Langley said will be completely different from Sunday’s service.
The dedication is open to anyone but is something special for the church members, he said. There will be 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.
On Dec. 16 the church returns to its regular 9 and 10:45 a.m. services.
Church members and visitors will see 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, Tennessee, 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 where the Christmas tree currently sits. 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.
Langley estimates the LED wall is about 40-feet wide and 10-feet tall.
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”
Staff measured the worship center space and the pulpit is the same distance to the back wall as it was in the other space the church used for worship services.
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.
It now will have more flexibility of use because it won’t have to be set up for a worship service each week, he said. Signage will be in place to help direct to the new worship center. In front of the main entrance of the worship center is a dropoff area but the main entrance to the church facility still is off the main parking lot, Langley said.
There are hallways on both levels that access the worship center from the other part of the building, he said.
“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.
Langley said while he was in Oklahoma with family over Thanksgiving he planned on helping with the landscaping around the building when he returned, but it was done when he got back.
“They just jumped in and in two days it was taken care of,” he said.
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 the new worship center.
After the dedication and grand opening, the church will hold Christmas Eve services at 4 and 6 p.m. in the new worship center.
“It’s going to be a busy, busy month but it’s exciting,” he said.
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, Ky.