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FBC Butler members pitch in to build family life centercomment (0)

August 18, 2005

By Dee Ann Campbell

It’s close to a miracle,” said John A. Boney as he walked through the new building under construction beside First Baptist Church, Butler.
In Boney’s eyes, it’s a remarkable structure that now stands on the grounds beside his church. Its sheer size draws attention from fellow church members, the community and passersby. 
Though still a work in progress, the building — a new family life center — promises to be a dynamic new addition to the 600-plus-member church.
But its value goes even further — it’s a testimony to the hard work, dedication and talents of those who have put in countless hours to complete it.
It’s a testimony, church members say, to the work of God.
“We started out thinking we would build something for the youth,” Boney said. “But God had other plans. We prayed about it and decided we needed to build a family life center, something for everyone. It seemed impossible at first but it’s happening.”
Construction began in September 2004. Once completed, the two-story building will span 7,200 square feet on the lower floor and 2,400 square feet on the upper floor. It will house a kitchen, a gymnasium, an exercise room, a playroom, classrooms and a meeting room.
A youth room spans the majority of the second floor, designed with surround-sound and insulation to keep noise from interfering with classes on the lower level. It will be a place where youth can come to enjoy music, fun and fellowship, Boney said. 
“We plan to turn this room into a place that will attract youth all the time,” he said. “We want the kids to come here anytime they want. That’s the whole idea behind this — to give the kids a place that belongs to them here at church instead of them finding places to go outside of the church. We want them to feel like this is their place to be.”
But, just as planned, the building will be much more than a youth center.
“The older people wanted somewhere to exercise, too, so we built a room for them,” he explained. “We wanted this building to have something for everyone.”
From floor plan to finished product, the building has been created almost entirely by church members, with only limited outside assistance. Boney designed the floor plan and spearheaded the project, and other members also have contributed their time and expertise.
“When we first started talking about this, we checked to see what it would cost to have someone build it. The cost was staggering,” Boney said. “I told the church that we could do it ourselves. I don’t think some of them thought it was possible. But we made the commitment to do it, and we just got in there and did it.”
Through the efforts of the men in the church and the intervention of God, the project has amazed those who thought it wasn’t possible, he said. “We’ve got retired men who come here every day to work. We’ve got men who have jobs but take time to come here when they can to help. We’ve got others who have put in a lot of time here.
“We got to counting up the average ages of everybody who’s worked on this building, and it averages out to 69.3 years. That’s a lot of old men,” Boney said, laughing.
Pastor Micah Gandy added, “What makes it more miraculous is that we are just talking about a few men.
“There have been those who have contributed to it here and there, but the majority of this has been done by just a few,” he said.
The project has captured the attention of others in the community, garnering assistance and donations from neighbors not affiliated with the church. 
In particular, there have been those outside the church who have donated the use of heavy equipment such as bucket trucks. 
“We hired someone to finish the cement and someone to do the plumbing under the cement, and we had to get some help to put the top on the gym,” Boney said. 
“Our intent was that we would get someone else to do only those things that we feel uncomfortable with. So far, there hasn’t been much that we haven’t been able to do on our own. Basically we are doing it ourselves.”
And they are doing it solely from funds donated for the project.
“We haven’t had to borrow anything,” he said. “People have just given the money. It began with a few donations, and it just grew and grew. It’s been amazing to see. Whenever we’ve gotten low on money, someone has come through with it.”
Although it is still several months from completion, those who have toured the building are amazed at its design, its size and the professionalism with which it is being constructed.
Throughout the project, the men who have put in their time and energy have continually been amazed at what they consider God’s hand at work. It has been, they say, a labor of love.
“We really didn’t expect all this to happen this way but it keeps happening,” Boney admitted. “We’ve had a good time doing this. We’ve enjoyed working together and seeing what God is doing to get it done.” 
Gandy said the work of the men who have put their time and talents into the building has been the source of inspiration for the entire congregation.
“These guys have been working on this for over a year,” he said. “Guys have spent their vacation working here. There have been those who have worked on their off days, and some of them are here every day working. 
“They have been an inspiration to all of us.”

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