Dale Tunnell is disgusted with the moral decay of society. In fact, as pastor of Augusta First Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Wheeler Road, Tunnell thinks today's young people should have an environment where they can grow in Christ.
Tunnell's church recently has begun a capital stewardship program to raise nearly $2.4 million to build a private Christian school at their church. Nearly two-thirds of the church's Family Life Center and school is complete and will be ready for use in about two months.
Dale Tunnell, the pastor of Augusta First Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Wheeler Road, stands next to the construction of the new school the church is building.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"We are going to be sending out letters asking people to help us pay for this building," said Tunnell, adding that the church has a 15-year note on the building, but hopes to pay it off within eight years.
"Just because we don't have the money right now, we're not letting that stop us, " he said
The church is already home to a kindergarten through ninth grade school where 35 pupils are enrolled and four teachers are employed. The new facility will allow the church to offer classes for grades 10 through 12, and enroll about 70 more students. A library and gymnasium are also part of the new building.
"Grades K-9 have been meeting in our Sabbath school rooms," Tunnell said. "This new building will be 50 percent bigger than the church."
While students are in multi-grade classes - meaning students in several grades are lumped into one class - Tunnell says teachers are better able to keep up with the students and their learning skills.
"We have a policy that no teacher can have more than 20 kids in his or her class," he said. "If they get to 16, we hire an aide."
Tunnell said the push for the private Christian school begins with a basic belief that public school students are being subjected to "stuff" they shouldn't have to be.
"We need these Christian schools around here because of the moral decay of society," he said. "We just want young people to grow up to be good moral people.
"Although a school is not a church, it is a place where people will worship, fellowship and be taught how to have a close relationship to our God," Tunnell added. "By having this Family Life Center and school, we will have the privilege of a life changing study area, and our children will have more space to grow and become involved in learning about God."
While the new building will be used for the church-sponsored school, the church plans to sponsor financial seminars, cooking classes, stress seminars and other classes for the public.
"It will help the whole community," Tunnell said.
Individuals interested in contributing to the capital stewardship program can send donations to the church Attn. Building Fund, 4301 Wheeler Road, Augusta, GA 30907. All donations are tax deductible.
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