JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A Jonesboro church broke ground on a new worship center Sunday afternoon. The First Baptist Church, located on 700 Kitchen St. in Jonesboro, marked the construction of a new, $1.1 million building, which will replace the current worship center and sanctuary.
According to Rev. Curtis Wilson, the congregation could begin having services in the structure in a year to 14 months. The 13,000 square foot building will include ten classrooms for education, sanctuary, and baptistery and fellowship hall.
"I'm overjoyed to know that the Lord still hears and answers prayers and it's been manifested today throughout leadership here and our deacon ministry," said Wilson, who has been a member of the church since 1987.
"We've had some wonderful years serving the Lord right here in this place," said Wilson. "Several things will be different in this building because we'll have everything contained under one roof. In the past as we made out track to this point, we used old building that used to be on the properties surrounding the church."
Members of the congregation held a small worship service Sunday afternoon under the hot sun on a humid day. As Wilson read scripture from his bible, some members held their hands in the air.
"I remember walking these gravel roads in the 60's. My mom and brother and sisters and I would come to church and Sunday school and worship here," said Curtis Tate, who was saved and baptized at First Baptist in 1964. "I will never forget that. No. I will never forget the day the Lord touched my heart and saved me."
Tate said his family has been associated with the old church building for 70 years. The building, once the new center is completed, will be torn down to make room for a possible parking lot.
"It means so much to me and the community of Jonesboro. To see it go away itself, I just, it's like pulling the plug on a loved one, to see it torn down but I know progress is going to happen," said Tate.
The church had looked at getting the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but Deacon Rickey Greer said changes to the windows, doors and other things inside the church were modified and that prevented the effort.
"It's one of the oldest African American churches here in Jonesboro," said Greer. "We hope that someday, another 100 years from now, there's another groundbreaking ceremony that more people are coming to serve Christ and join in."
Stack Architecture Firm, LLC is the architect, Liberty Bank helped with financing and StoneBridge Construction is the contractor for the new church.
"We're breaking new ground and hope this one will be around for two or three hundred more years and take generations in the future would probably pick up and carry on," said Tate.