By Portia Williams
RUSSELL, Ky. - First Baptist Church recently dedicated a four million dollar facility. The three-story addition of FBC houses a center for children and youth. With a congregation of more than 1,400 members, Ken Gowin has served as Pastor of First Baptist Church for more than 15 years, and attributes the church’s growth and development during his tenure to God.
“Ultimately, it is a God-thing. You can’t explain this in any other way. We are a bible-believing church. It has been a supernatural work of Christ, and it has been exciting. I don’t know why God has allowed me to be a part of it,” Pastor Gowin said.
In 2005 the church completed The Family Life Center, in 2007 was the completion of the current sanctuary. He said the newest project has taken almost two years to complete. The first half opened in January 2013.
Gowin said the biggest challenge came in completing the projects in two phases.
“Some would probably think the greatest challenge in a major undertaking such as this would be the monetary component, but for us the challenge came in doing it it two parts. It also took longer than we’d anticipated,” Gowin said.
Brett Nance, minister of Connections & Missions, said the new facility was essential to the needs of the church.
“Primarily, this building has been built because we needed the room. As this church has grown, we needed more classroom space for training, and for recreation as the kids are her, as part of their activities. There is a lot of room for us to grow for the next several years,” Nance said.
He said his vision for the church encapsulates families.
“My vision is for families, catering to families, and their children, and so that has worked for us. We decided to make the turn and do families, probably a decade ago, instead of doing church the way that you normally do it. The theme here is construction, we are building kids, just like we are building families, and so it starts from foundational principles. We are striving to help them construct their lives, and we realize as adults, that we are always under construction. So we begin at the earliest of ages thinking that even pre-school kids can learn something, even the two-year olds,” Gowin said.
Kevin Floyd, Minister of Families & Small Groups said FBC embraces people where they are.
“We believe in going into our world, and responding to the needs of people with the love and teachings of Christ. We believe in accepting people where they are, challenging all toward personal and spiritual growth, and exalting and celebrating our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Floyd said.
Tina Sparks, minister of Children & Families, said they are thankful for their students and families at FBC.
“We are just thankful that we can welcome them from the community here and the families. One of the wonderful things is the parents understanding what we are about, the fact that we are intentional with teaching the concepts about God, and Jesus. The children are grounded in their own faith, they claim it as their own, and that is what we are hoping for all of the children that come to our facility,” Sparks said.
Jason Davis, mMinster of Students and Families said the new facility offers amenities that all of the youth will enjoy.
“We are pretty excited to get into this building, because it gives us much more opportunities with the students. We a cafe, a nice theater, and more classes than what we had before. Hopefully, this will give us more opportunities to minister to other students out in the community, and to be able to spend some time with them, get to know them,” Davis said.
Nancy Gowin, minister of Middle School and Families said the students are elated about the new facility.
“Jason and I kind of work in tandem with the students. I work with the younger kids, and they are so excited to be up here. They have more space, middle school kids need to move. There is going to be a lot of activity in this great big theater. The kids are already excited about bringing friends, and getting very involved. We have a lot of parent interaction as well, so we’re trying to build a foundation with the kids where they have an opportunity to experience their faith, sharing their faith, and knowing that none of that is boring, its fun, and its alive,” Nancy Gowin said.
Pastor Gowin said the members of FBC have been instrumental in the productivity of the church.
“People ask me all of the time, other ministers ask me how come the church has grown the way that it has, but our people have been excited about the church, and so they have invited people to come. We haven’t batted a thousand by any means of the stretch, but the people like their church,” he said. “The people are still excited about it, and I don’t know why that is, but they still are.”
He said they utilize a basic approach at FBC, and try to do their very best in everything.
“We try to do what we do well, and we don’t try to do everything. We teach and train people that Christ will make a difference in their lives. We do is small groups, dealing with families, and responding to the needs of people we kind of stick with that. We also try to get people acclimated into working within the church as well as out in the community. We but don’t try to do all of the fluff and stuff, we just try to be pretty basic. We have our hands full just trying to do the foundational things,” Gowin said.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.