By Waylon Bailey
Just 30 miles north of New Orleans, one can find rich culture and deep community in the heart of Covington, LA. As a thriving part of the locale,
First Baptist Church Covington continues to find new and relevant ways to bring the ultimate message of hope to their neighbors.
Existing to help people experience life-changing relationships, the congregation believes in investing its resources to provide facilities that offer the ultimate ministry connection point.
Beginning in 2002 FBC Covington felt led to make this kind of investment for their student ministry with a vision to provide a place for teenagers to connect in a large group setting.
The church decided to partner with local firms Fauntleroy Latham Weldon Barré Architects and Kent Construction Inc. to make the church’s vision become a reality. Therefore, in 2005 the completion of a Recreational Outreach Center, known as “The ROC” was added to their campus.
The 8,481 square-foot Butler pre-engineered metal building frames and roof system was a cost and ministry effective decision for FBC. The building included a large café and coffee area, gaming console stations, and a large worship space complete with a stage, audio visual equipment, and enhanced LED lighting.
Place bring sgrowth
Finally, now with an inviting place for teenagers to build relationships and grow, the student ministry began to flourish. However, it wasn’t long until the congregation realized that God still had bigger plans. He faithfully blessed their investment and filled it with >>
about 140-160, 7th to 12th graders each week. The student ministers quickly found themselves trying to creatively plan their ministry events to house all of those students with only one large open room to do it in.
With a ministry plan that consisted of small groups, it seemed almost impossible to break out into six or more small groups for Bible study, with no sound or sight barriers to eliminate the distractions of the neighboring groups.
Therefore, the church decided to take the next step of faith in pursuit of its “Destination: Inheritance” (the name of the capital campaign, based on Deuteronomy 12:5-9). Now in need of classroom, relational and recreation space, they once again partnered with the same architects and construction firm to bring the addition of “ROC II” together.
The 18,243 square-foot expansion was once again a Butler pre-engineered metal building solution. The goal was to keep the same design and style of ROC I and simply implement that into ROC II in order to enlarge the connection point for not only teenagers, but also young adults.
Adam Martin, head of Kent Construction’s Faith Division, said, “Being involved with the initial planning and construction, and then witnessing the impact it’s had on the ministry of FBC, has been a tremendous blessing. I’ve never seen anything like it! The project was a great testimony to God’s faithfulness and we were honored to be a part of it.”
The renovated welcome center of ROC I includes a spacious dining area complete with café style seating and a new large commercial kitchen, which includes two concession windows that serves both the interior café and the exterior recreation fields. Beautiful, five-color, polished concrete floors are a large focal point of the room.
From there, three large double solid core wood doors separate the newly expanded worship space, filled with state of the art digital sound equipment, LED lighting system, and an audio visual production room. As an expansion of this space, a green room was also added to accommodate guest speakers and bands.
Traveling from ROC I into the ROC II addition, an entirely glazed 16-foot industrial style operable garage door added great value. When closed, the glazed door allows for multiple uses of the facility at the same time, but still giving an open look and feel. Moving into the main lobby, one encounters a media island wrapped in perforated metal, glowing with LED lighting where students find LCD screens, complete with gaming consoles and internet access.
Continuing down a tapered hallway with CMU block walls, along with stained concrete floors, are eight classrooms all completely media enhanced by 78-inch interactive Promethean whiteboards which effectively engages student bible study. At the end of the hallway, members are able to fellowship on the two-story outdoor porches overlooking the wooded tree line.
One of the favorite elements of the new building is the steel staircase that is surrounded by two-story storefront windows with impact rated glass which gives a sense of clarity and as architect Nathaniel Parks describes, “creates a sense of lightness and openness.”
Covington along with the entire St. Tammany Parish is filled with families that enjoy sports. Therefore, as a final connection point to the community, FBC Covington wanted to incorporate outdoor recreation facilities into the project. Families now can have multiple avenues to connect. The new full size basketball pavilion allows for youth and adults to play, while also serving as a meeting place for outdoor meals and activities. If basketball is not your sport of choice, families also have access to connect through the new fully lighted softball field, which can also be converted into soccer and football fields. The two full-size sand volleyball courts have been a huge outreach for community members to become familiar with the ministry of FBC in a casual setting.
All in all, The ROC expansion has multiplied the ministry of First Baptist Covington and has brought much excitement into the life of the church. Education Minister Clif Smith said, “This new facility allows us to be able to better minister to the needs of not only students and young adults, but all ages and we are thankful to God for his blessings!”
Dr. Waylon Bailey is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Covington, LA. www.fbccov.org