New church part of vision for Family Worship Center's growth.
In a time when many churches are struggling to keep their doors open, expansion is on the horizon for the Family Worship Center in Plaster Rock. Plans are taking shape for a new, 1,000 seat church that will be built along the section of Route 108 commonly referred to as the truck bypass.
Rev. Daniel McKillop, senior pastor at the center, said the church has been outgrowing its present space for some time. However, he's surprised and pleased with how quickly the congregation, which often numbers about 435 for a Sunday service, is moving toward gaining a new space.
The church family is raising funds toward the project and if that process continues to go well, Rev. McKillop hopes construction will start in the fall of 2020 or the spring of 2021. Some preliminary site work will be done this summer.
''Six months ago, I would have said it will be five years before anything gets started," he said. ''What's happened is amazing!''
The construction project is good news for the church and the community, he said. ''It's a good shot in the arm for everybody," Rev. McKillop commented. ''I've been overwhelmed by the support from the community. Our town seems excited about it."
Architects are now working on the design and although plans haven't been finalized, Rev. McKillop said the new building will be more than 34,000 square feet with a ''turnkey'' price tag of just over $8 million. The pastor is confident, however, that by drawing on the skills and talents of church membership, that figure can be reduced.
''Our hope is that we can do it with as little debt-load as we can," he said. Already, the church has paid off its past debts and is well on the way to raising a projected $875,000 by the end of the year.
''I'm surprised at how quickly we've got to this point," said the pastor.
He says the church and its members have a ''grab the sky and build something'' outlook that he thinks is helping it to move forward.
''There has been a dynamic that has happened that I give God the credit for," he added. The new church will have a stage and a slightly sloped main floor that will seat approximately 650. Behind a removable wall, there will be theater-style seating for a total capacity of up to 1,000. The main church, lobby, sanctuary and washrooms will form phase one of the project with prayer rooms, space for youth, a kitchen and offices included in phase two.
Rev. McKillop is hoping there will eventually be a cafe with an outdoor entrance that will be open to the public. There will also be ample parking. Rev. McKillop said local labour and tradespeople will be utilized where possible during the construction process.
When the new church is ready, the old one will be remodeled to meet the needs of increasing enrolment at the church's Christian school, the Truth Learning Academy, and to meet the recreational needs of the church membership and the community.
''It's definitely our plan for the community to be able to use it as well," he said.
Within a 10 to 12-year time frame, a gymnasium will be built on what is now the main floor of the church; the balcony will be transformed into a walking track and there will be men's and women's fitness rooms upstairs. A large kitchen is also envisioned adjacent to the gym downstairs.
Such growth has been possible, he said, because of the church's vision. The Family Worship Centre has campuses in Plaster Rock, Grand Falls and Presque Isle, Me. It also has a church in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and another in Ghana, West Africa. The vision, said Rev. McKillop, is to ''plant'' 10 churches wherever opportunities present themselves.
''Our church has been missions-driven for years, this is taking it to a whole new level," he stated.
The outreach has helped people around the world to learn about the Family Worship Centre, Rev. McKillop said. Families have moved from Australia, Germany and Haiti to become members of campuses in either Plaster Rock, Grand Falls or Presque Isle. Their children attend the Truth Learning Academy.
''So now we are seeing some diversity in our school which is wonderful!'' Rev. McKillop said.
Currently, 82 children are enrolled in kindergarten to Grade 12 but Rev. McKillop said they are on the cusp of seeing a big jump in class numbers. ''We're going to have 10, 12 or even 14 in some of our classes," he said. ''That's another reason we need more space.''
The kitchen located in the basement of the current church is a busy place, providing meals for a multitude of events. However, as the dining space currently doubles as the school's indoor physical education and recreation space, a lot of set up and take down is necessary every time it is utilized.
''So, this is another reason we need to expand," he said.
The church purchased 150 acres of land at the new site and Rev. McKillop said they hope to sell some of that to help raise funds for the project. He's hopeful construction of the new church will be a catalyst for development within the village.
''That's something we hope to see,'' he said.
Interview Article From Victoria Star - February 8th, 2019
Written By: Corinne Fitzherbert