POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) --For good or bad reasons many schools in both Missouri and Arkansas may have to close their doors and have their students sent to other schools.
But the old buildings still remain. The question is, what do they do with them?
The old Central School in Poinsett county has been given a new look and a new name as the Central Community Church. The outside has been re-done with a new stucco look and a large cross on the front of the building.
Along with a new name the church has a new mission that ties in with it's history.
"When a school closes in a community the community sometimes will lose it's identity. And we want this church building to remain a focus in the community, the Central Community."
Nearly a year ago I visited with Pastor Milton Cowling as Central Elementary was getting ready to close. Then and still he had one plan in mind.
" (2009)We hope to keep that idea and ministry of helping people. (2010) The different ways we could use this facility to help the people in the community and that is our major objective."
After purchasing the school from the Trumann School District the members sold their old church and some land to re-do the building.
Most of the work was completed by church members and volunteers.
Cowling, "A lot of this putting up the walls and putting up the door trim. Our guys did that."
The classrooms were divided up in half to make Sunday School rooms and church members did all the painting. Also the gym was divided into half. The rear half is a gym and the front half is the auditorium that will seat around 200.
Pastor Cowling wants the church to reach out to the Central Community . One of the churches unique features will be a computer room presided over by Youth Minister Tyler Isbell. Cowling says that people will be able to come in to learn basic computer skills to make them more attractive to possible employers. Also Isbell is working on a program for kids to work on their Sunday School lessons.
Isbell, "If we're going to be able to reach the community in a way they that they are comfortable with and a way that they feel will help them in their practical lives then I think were going to have to go to the computer."
The church was able to keep most of the cafeteria equipment so it would be able to serve large meals in case it was needed as a shelter after a natural disaster.
To make it even more part of the community the church changed its name to the Central Community Church. And that Pastor Cowling says is the focus, for the church to help here at home.
"We've gone on mission trips to various states and overseas and we'll help where necessary but mostly just right here. If people need us we want to see what we can do to help them out."
On Sunday May 2 the church will host an open house beginning with Sunday School at 9:45, Worship at 11, Lunch and tours at 12 and a concert at 1:30.
The church is located South of Jonesboro on Highway 163.