Features in the beautifully finished sanctuary of the new Waterville Baptist Church include the stained-glass windows from the old building.
Located at 4555 Dalton Pike, the new multilevel building and parking area was situated on 29 of the 100-acre property owned by the church.
The total square footage of the new church is 41,480 — housing youth, children’s and adult’s rooms for worship and education.
Church leaders and members moved forward in 2007 to buy the property which is located just south from where the old building was established more than 62 years ago.
Members held their first service in the new church July 8.
Lee University provided space at the old First Baptist Church located on Church Street, while the construction process moved forward.
Senior Pastor Allan Lovelace spoke during his sermon of acceptance and what it means for denominations to work together in communities to honor the name of Jesus.
“There’s no greater community to point to than Cleveland and Bradley County. It’s not only the many places of worship in our county, or the fine university in our city with a biblical foundation, but the way the salt and light is scattered all across this county from civil leadership to civil servants, to educators and administrators, and the wonderful local businesses and business people that truly allow this community to garner God’s favor and hand of blessing,” he said recently.
Rardin and Carroll Architects designed the building, while construction was basically overseen by members of the church.
Carl Inglis was the general contractor for the project.
Stacked stone and wood comprise the basic elements of the exterior.
Flooring types and styles change throughout the building, depending on the need for special placement.
Carpeting tiles which can be replaced upon need were used in the foyer along with architectural tiles. Stacked stone and massive woodwork along with finished wallboard greet the members, new and old.
Comfortable seating was placed in the foyer which boasts an airy, open and inviting feel.
In the sanctuary, carpeting runs throughout the gallery worship center. The stage was finished with wooden laminate and features the nine windows from the old church.
Church member Kevin Peacock contributed a hand-crafted pulpit.
A state of the art Bose sound and projection system were installed along with portable seating. The Baptistry is located in the sanctuary.
The church has 111 rooms for worship, learning and fellowship.
In the children’s area, craft supplies have been organized and stored away, but are easily accessible to the teachers of the variety of age groups who use them.
The strength of the building is the education space which features a preschool division, with full-service nursery, children's department, youth and adult educational facilities.
“We were blessed to have Carl Inglis as our general contractor and Bob Merritt as our project manager. On our first Sunday, Carl received his payment when his granddaughter, who had recently accepted Christ as her Savior, was baptized in the new baptistery. Merritt received his payment by hearing his favorite song, “Farther Along” during the inaugural worship service.
“Bob Merritt actually worked for a song,” Lovelace joked.
“We were equally blessed with the speed of the project. Our church broke ground on July 10, 2011, and the first service was held on July 8, 2012. As the Scripture said, our people ‘had a mind to work,’ quoting from Nehemiah 4:6. After the building was completed, church members volunteered for the final cleanup,” Lovelace said.
The master plan has additional phases which will include the construction of a family life center, larger sanctuary, and office space.
The long-term plan also includes the development of the front property with recreational facilities, an outdoors pavilion, walking track, and other projects, church officials noted.
“It's been extremely obvious that we've been under divine supervision. To complete the building and stay close to the budget as we have does not happen very often. I actually had no idea I'd be fulfilling a promise I made to God 40 years ago in the fields of Southeast Asia,” said Merritt.
Worship times are Sunday school, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday morning worship, 10:45; Sunday evening, 6 p.m.; and Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Staff includes senior pastor Allan Lovelace, associate pastor Joe Brooks, minister of music Sammy Parris, and minister of students Judson Kirkpatrick.