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Boone’s Chapel sees ‘excitement for ministry,’ breaks ground after tornadocomment (0)

January 19, 2012

By Courtney Searcy

Boone’s Chapel sees ‘excitement for ministry,’ breaks ground after tornado

Out with the old and in with the new” became more than just an old saying for Boone’s Chapel Baptist Church, Prattville, when a tornado toppled its sanctuary April 15, 2011.  

The Autauga Baptist Association church broke ground Jan. 8 for a new facility to stand where its sanctuary once did.

But the vision for the new building began long before the tornado hit. When Mike Johnson became pastor more than a year ago, he formed a committee to survey the church and formulate a vision.

The survey assessed community needs and how Boone’s Chapel Baptist could meet them, as well as needs in discipleship and maturity. The church then implemented a long-term course of action.

It wasn’t expecting what happened April 15. Despite having a ruined sanctuary, Johnson said the church’s first response was to minister to the devastation and loss within its community.

Boone’s Chapel members lost family members as Willard Hollon and his two adult children, Steve and Cheryl, were killed in the tornado. Their mobile home, located near the church, was picked up and tossed over the sanctuary.

Because of its recovery efforts and press coverage, “the church took a quantum leap following the storm,” Johnson said.

Since the storm, the church has seen increased attendance and has even begun to hold two worship services.

“There is a great deal of excitement for ministry in the community,” Johnson said, noting that a recent Sunday night showing of the film “Courageous” drew in hundreds from the community.  

This excitement for ministry is reflected in the plans for the new building. Rather than rebuilding the sanctuary, the church has elected to continue meeting in the gymnasium that remained intact following the storm and to build a center to accommodate its growing children’s ministry.

“It’s going to be an outreach ministry to the youth and accommodate their needs — that’s what it’s all about,” said David Silas, a Boone’s Chapel member and building contractor.

The 17,000-square-foot facility will contain classrooms for preschoolers, children and youth, as well as a large multipurpose recreation room. In addition to administrative offices, it will have a safe room available to the community when severe weather strikes.  

“We realized there were 8,300 homes within five miles of the church, and … they don’t have any public buildings to go to,” Johnson said.

Silas said the safe room will hold around 150 people and will be surrounded by 12-inch concrete walls and a 10-inch concrete ceiling.

The new facility should be complete within nine to 11 months.

Attendees at the ground-breaking ceremony included about 350 church members and leaders as well as community leaders such as Art Faulkner, Alabama Emergency Management Agency director; Sen. Bryan Taylor of Prattville; Alfred Booth, Autauga County probate judge; Joy Booth, Autauga County district judge; Paul Beckman, Rep. of Autauga and Elmore; and Bill Gillespie, mayor of Prattville.

During the ceremony, Johnson shared a message titled “A Time to Tear Down, a Time to Rebuild” from Ecclesiastes 3. While the church has come through its own season of tearing down and building up, there is a parallel to the Christian’s spiritual life.

“It’s necessary to tear down the old in order to have an ending of the old way, in order to move into the new. God refers to our lives as buildings — we have to condemn the old,” Johnson said.

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