By BRANDON SUMRALL/Special to the Advertiser
A dream 18 years in the making finally became reality on Aug. 28 as members and guests of West End Baptist Church held their first Sunday worship service in the newly finished sanctuary. The energy and excitement the newly finished sanctuary has created could be seen and felt throughout the huge congregation that filled the 1,100 seat facility.
Since November of 1998, West End has been worshipping in a multi-purpose building that was built in order to increase the seating capacity to better serve a growing congregation that had outgrown the original building. As membership grew and open seats disappeared, church leaders made plans to build a new sanctuary.
By the latter part of 2009 work began on the first of three phases of new construction. The first phase included the completion of a two-story wing that would house educational and Sunday School classrooms. With construction going well and excellent cost savings, the decision was made to include the construction of the exterior of the sanctuary in phase one as well.
When completion of phase one finished in 2012, the members of West End made a plan to quickly pay off the debt borrowed to fund the construction In the latter part of 2015, the debt had diminished significantly, and the church moved forward with plans to finish the sanctuary.
Over the past several months, construction crews, the church’s building committee, other planning committees and church staff have been hard at work finalizing plans and making the move years into their newly finished sanctuary.
“We didn’t do any of this, the Lord has put the right people in place to bring all of this together and all we had to do was step back and allow Him to open the doors,” said Building Committee Chair Ronnie Carmichael.
Only a few open seats remained as worship began on Sunday morning. For the staff and members of West End, the goal has always been to fill each seat for every service.
“Our chairman of Deacons Andy Williams has really challenged us to not treat this as a build it and they will come,” said associate Pastor Eddie Lightsey. “We have a lot of things that we are putting into place. We are infusing our ministries from the children all the way up to our outreach program to do the best job we can reaching out to the community in order to fill those seats and to see what the Lord is doing at West End.”