Airline Baptist Church formally opened its new children’s ministry and outreach facility this weekend similarly to the way they started the project – with many prayers and words of thanks to the people who made it all possible.
It took just over a year to finish the 20,000-square-foot building, but church officials say it was well worth the wait.
“It exceeds all expectations,” Pastor Chad Mills said. “It’s one thing to see it as a drawing on paper, but to see it open and filled with God’s love is a great blessing. We believe in our children and we want to show them that we are investing in their future.”
The two-story building features a central lobby and welcome center, covered drop-off area, secured entry ways into childcare areas, more than a dozen classrooms and a large nursery area, an indoor playroom, teacher resource center and preparation area, activity areas, restrooms and an elevator. Prior to Sunday’s grand opening, Sunday school and preschool classrooms were spread throughout the church campus, which meant walking from building to building in the open air and susceptible to anything Mother Nature had in store.
However, the new building houses all of the children in one secured location and connects to the main building with an enclosed, covered walkway. Mills said the addition of an elevator has also made the entire building handicap accessible.
“This part of the project was near and dear to my heart,” Mills explained. “It broke my heart that there were some people who had no way to access certain areas of our campus. We want every part of this campus open and accessible to everyone, whether they are able or disabled.”
The additional classroom and nursery space means more room for their weekly preschool and Mother’s Day Out program too, opening the door of opportunity for more children and families to come in and learn about God.
“It was already a community outreach effort, but this building has opened up space for more children and families. This allows us to no longer say we don’t have room for a child,” Mills said. “We are proud of our preschool and Mother’s Day Out programs. Reputation is everything and that what makes a successful program.”
Sara Grubbs, Director of the Preschool and Mother’s Day Out programs, said their previous space consisted of eight room scattered around the church campus. Now, she’s looking to fill the 10 classrooms and three-part nursery.
“Our previous capacity was 85 to 90 children. We’re now looking at an enrollment of about 120 children,” Grubbs said. “We’re taking this as an opportunity to grow our ministry and reach out to the community more.”
Grubbs said the new building is definitely a blessing because things were “held together with love” in the previous space.
“We’re excited to move in and make this place feel more like home,” Grubbs added.
The playground equipment was also upgraded and separated into two sections, giving children ages two to five their own place to run, jump and play outside.
The church broke ground in October 2012 on the basis of Nehemiah 2:18, “Let us rise up and build.” A fence will be added around the playground over the next few weeks, but preschool and Mother’s Day Out will begin in their new rooms today.
Sharon Warner, Minister to Children and Young Families, said they are starting the year with more space and even more space than what they need. But, Warner said she’s eager to get more youth into the building to continue their mission in the community.
“Our mission is life changing. We want to see children grow in Jesus and give them a foundation to live by,” she said. “We are grateful for what God has done for us and for those committed to changing the lives of local children with the word of God.”
For more information on these programs, visit www.airlinebaptist.com or call (318) 746-2799.