Antioch East begins #036;1.2 million project

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2006

Poet Edgar A. Guest once wrote: &#8220God sends no churches from the skies, out of our heart they must arrive.”

Antioch East Baptist Church, located at 2303 Old Stage Road, first arrived in the hearts of Butler Countians in September of 1865.

Now, nearly 140 years later, the congregation has broken ground on a brand-new worship center to better meet the needs of a growing population.


$1.2 million project will include a 354-seat sanctuary, and a larger, modern preschool area.

Other plans include new handicapped-accessible bathrooms along with a covered drive-through.

The process has involved much time, attention and prayer, Ronnie Boulware, Antioch East's pastor, said.

&#8220About five years ago, a long range planning committee was put together to work on charting our future ministry efforts. Through careful prayer and study, the committee realized the future growth of our area necessitated some changes,” Boulware said.

Once it was determined changes were necessary, a building committee came together to examine the church's current facilities, contrasting them with future needs.

A too-small sanctuary, along with limited and outdated space in the preschool area, &#8220begged for action,” Boulware said.

&#8220We had to decide what would help us be more effective in reaching more people and the obvious answer was preschool and worship space.”

Last summer a financial campaign was launched, one designed to measure the congregation's financial commitment to the project. The theme was, &#8220Not Equal Gifts, But Equal Sacrifice,” and members were asked to make pledges considering this theme.

&#8220A three-year commitment total of $493,000 resulted, and the giving began in August,” Boulware said.

The congregation gathered to break ground on the new facility on February 19.

The pastor says the results of the church's campaign have been &#8220amazing.”

&#8220This is a church that has never had any kind of pledge drive or campaign, and never borrowed any money…this project shows how serious we are about providing for the needs of young families.”

The church already has a regular children's church service with an average of 15 youngsters through second grade attending each Sunday morning, and another 20-25 youth who attend on Wednesdays and Sundays, Boulware says.

There are already two part-time youth ministers providing &#8220tremendous guidance” to the youth ministry.

&#8220We offer Bible study and Sunday School classes for the youth, and this summer, we'll hold a beach camp…as the church grows, we will call a full-time student minister,” Boulware said.

In the future, the church plans to remodel the existing sanctuary to provide additional educational spaces and is looking to expand its fellowship and youth facilities.

&#8220In fact, we have three more phases on our drawing boards for the years ahead…a point of reference for generations to come,” Boulware said. The church currently has approximately 275 resident members and another 100 non-resident members.

&#8220Antioch East is working ahead to adequately prepare for the future. No matter where you are, we're worth the drive.”