A Martinez Baptist church soon will be reaching a little higher toward the sky.
The congregation of Abilene Baptist Church on Washington Road voted Oct. 8 to approve a campaign to fund additions to the building's choir suite and rear entrance and to build a new three-story adult and children's education center that will stand on the footprint of the old sanctuary and church courtyard.
"We have found that when a church is (building), it builds a spirit of excitement and accomplishment," said the Rev. William "Bill" Harrell, Abilene's pastor. "We're looking forward to the construction time. We feel it will be a good time for our church."
The project also will include a new grand rear entrance and portico. Harrell said the church's current choir practice area is insufficient and the plans for the $1.2 million choir loft can accommodate as many as 180 choir members and the church orchestra.
He said Abilene is working toward raising $1 million by April 1. He said construction could begin soon after funds are collected, with the project expected to take about eight months.
Work on the education building is slated to begin after the rear entrance and choir loft are finished. Though plans are still tentative, Harrell said the three-story complex will begin at the southeastern side of the front foyer and extend over to the former church sanctuary, connecting with another three-story education building completed in 1992.
The $5.5 million to $6 million, 44,083-square-foot building will include nearly 14,000 square feet of children's classrooms on the ground floor, along with an indoor playground. The second floor will hold office space and more children's classrooms, while the third floor will house 17 classrooms for adults, Harrell said.
"The people have just grasped the vision and started giving to it," Harrell said of the congregation.
Though there is some sentimentality for the old sanctuary, which was replaced by the current sanctuary in 1978, Harrell said it must be razed for the church to handle its growth.
During construction of the educational building, Harrell said Sunday School classes will be shifted to other space within the church and its Christian Life Center on Roberts Road.
He said the church will ask its architects to begin drafting final plans for the two projects later this fall.
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