LONG BEACH (WLOX) -- After almost 3 years of holding services at Long Beach city schools, members of First Baptist Church have had their last service away from home. They walked out of the service and down the road to their new home, still carrying the burdens they've bourne on their journey.
"The 12 stones represent life principals that we have learned during this time of journey and homelessness post-Katrina," says Pastor Dr. LaRue Stephens. "These are life lessons that we never want to forget."
Members have come home to a new facility on a new campus, and Dr. Stephens says this is only the beginning.
"Finally, we can all come together under one roof and be as a family. This is home."
This 59 thousand square foot, multi-purpose building will handle administration, christian education classes and regular worship services until a new sanctuary is built. But it was built with a new ministry in mind as well. A ministry that blessed many members during their own journeys of recovery.
"We also have planned to house a disaster relief ministry here and to be a hub for any kind of relief work in a post catastrophic event," says LaRue.
Because he says they know what a volunteer's helping hand means, when the load is too heavy to bear alone.
"They have seen Jesus in the flesh, meeting them at the point of their needs, and that's what we want to be about here at First Baptist of Long Beach."
Pastor Stephens says the kitchen can handle about 9 thousand meals a day, and he says there's plenty of room in the multi-purpose building and the 17 acre site for volunteers, supply trucks and tents.