GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As the congregation lifted up their voices in song, some members scurried to provide additional seating at the inaugural service. There were plenty of new and familiar faces at the church's new location on Highway 605. Mike Parmer and his wife have been members for six years.
"The first time I saw it, it was a hayfield. It's hard to imagine that a facility like this; that we've been able to build it with God's help. It's just a great, great facility, beautiful in every way," Parmer said.
While celebrating the opening of the new 18.75 million dollar facility, church members also reflected back on how Katrina destroyed their old church in downtown Gulfport and how the past few years have stretched their faith.
"God has just poured His grace and goodness upon First Baptist Church. At every turn in our journey, when we thought the road was steep, He would smooth it out," said Pastor Chuck Register. "When we thought the road was rocky, He would remove all of our obstacles and bless us. As we've moved from being devastated by Katrina, to enjoying these wonderful facilities today."
The state-of-the-art facility houses a basketball court that's also used for worship services, a student ministry space, also known as 'The Loft' and a fitness area, just to name a few.
"Instead of building a facility for Sundays only, this is a facility that's equiped with recreation facilities, some of the finest preschool facilities, a coffee shop, so that folks can interact and find ministry to meet their family needs each and every day of the week," Pastor Register said.
But, Pastor Register stresses the building isn't what God's all about, it's the hearts of the people who worship here.
Money for the new building came from three sources:
- Gifts from other Southern Baptist Churches throughout the nation
- Members of First Baptist Church of Gulfport