Geneva’s First Baptist looks to expand

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – When First Baptist Church in Geneva first built its second, westside campus at 3435 Keslinger Road in 2003, plans were to build a large sanctuary on the west half and merge it with the eastside campus, at 2300 South St., Geneva.

But both the economy and the times changed those plans, said Doug Kight, executive director of operations for the church. 

“Since that time, with economic uncertainties we’ve seen in the country, and as we look to better evaluate our needs – that is not the way to go,” Kight said. “The focus now is on flexible meeting space and opportunities for our ministries to have more effective and efficient space in which to conduct activities.”

The trend among large churches across the country, Kight said, is not to build large worship sanctuaries anymore. 

“Because by definition, they’re only using the space once a week,” Kight said.

An estimated 2,000 people attend six worship services at both First Baptist’s campuses per weekend, he said, so there is no need for a bigger sanctuary. 

But with tremendous growth in programming Monday through Saturday for adult Bible studies, women’s ministries and children’s programming, Kight said, the church seeks to expand in a different way – to house children’s areas, a nursery, new lobby, offices and multipurpose space.

The church filed an application with the Geneva Plan Commission for preliminary and final approval to build a 23,000-square-foot addition to the west campus, Geneva spokesman Kevin Stahr said.

“When the project was originally approved by the City Council in 2003, it was approved with the condition that all development would be completed within eight years,” Stahr said. “It’s longer than eight years, so a new set of preliminary drawings and final plans are required.”

A plan commission hearing will be scheduled in February, Stahr said. Kight said the church hopes to break ground for the addition in spring.

The west campus building is 42,000 square feet. The addition would expand the building’s footprint by 44 feet to the north and 56 feet to the south. The $9 million cost would include paying off the remaining $820,000 debt on the westside building, Kight said. 

The original project cost was $10 million, $8 million for the building and $2 million for the land, Kight said.

The eastside campus will see some internal renovation as the lower level “has not been touched in 50 years, [and] is in great need of upgrading and creating space that is efficient … [for] administrative offices,” Kight said. 

The east campus also needs enough flexible space to accommodate growth in the children’s ministry, appropriate security measures and more space for the food pantry, he said.

Kight said the church is in the process of raising money for the project, but he could not say how much has been raised so far.

“We are still in process and committed to communicating with our congregation first,” Kight said.

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