The opening of Evans Community Baptist Church is the culmination of a nearly 30-year dream for Pastor Larry Bullard.
During his 28-year career, Bullard has served as a youth minister, as a pastor in Texas and as the vice president of Victory Baptist College in North Augusta. But his dream always has been to build a church from scratch.
"I've always wanted to create a community Baptist church to service Columbia County families," Bullard said. "I remember my family and feeling moved by God to do this six years ago with only $50 in our pockets. Now, the Lord has blessed us with this great new facility."
The church is located at Cox and Byrd roads next to Evans High School. Bullard said it is the perfect location for the church's 200 members.
"With all that happened at Columbine (High School in Littleton, Colo.), I knew I wanted to have the church close to a school and the surrounding community," he said. "We recently had a meeting with the principal at Evans and we're going to be doing a lot of things with them.
"We're going to start having a weekly pancake breakfast and Bible study with the students. And we're also going to start a Fifth Quarter Celebration, which is something we'll be hosting for the youth following football games."
Formerly called the Augusta Metro Baptist Church, Bullard's congregation has been worshiping in various venues for the past six years without a true home.
The church initially worshiped at Westside High School beginning in October 1996. After a few months they moved to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion and then into the former Robinson's Furniture Store on Belair Road.
Construction began on the new church in August 2002 and it opened last month.
The overriding theme of the church's decor is palm trees. Three are planted at the entrance and the church houses several palm plants. Even paintings and lamps bear the palm's likeness. It wasn't an accident of interior design.
"Everyone endures storms in their lives," Bullard said. "With palm trees, a wind can blow so hard that it will bend the top of a palm tree all the way to the ground, but it will never break.
"They remind me that no matter how hard things become in our lives we can bounce back."
In addition to regular worship and Sunday school services, the church will hold several specialized programs for single mothers, youth, young couples, singles, senior citizens and those recoveringfrom an addiction.
It also holds monthly table tennis tournaments, regular basketball tournaments, youth drama programs, quarterly small business expos and much more. Some of the church's outreach projects include collecting toiletries to send to troops stationed overseas and providing lawn maintenance for the elderly in the Evans community.
Not quite content with a new worship center, Bullard says that the church plans to construct a war veteran's memorial garden and a gymnasium.
"A church is about worshiping God and seeking his guidance," Bullard said, "but it's also about fellowship with your community. That's why we wanted to be here in this community. We wanted to be a focal point where people can come and worship as a community."
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