Valley Baptist Church of Appleton, Wisconsin, dedicated its new 500-seat worship center March 13.
The 16,046-square-foot two-story building includes the worship center and welcome center on the upper floor and 11 new classrooms and a commons area for youth and adults in the basement area.
The congregation first met in the new facility on Christmas Eve and since then has had two Sunday morning services each week.
The total cost of the project— including the garage, landscaping, parking lot and the just-begun remodeling — is estimated at $3.1 million.
The decision to build came as the church saw all their classrooms occupied and their 230 seats in worship at near capacity in both services, said Charles Dunning, church member who serves as volunteer construction manager on the project. To reach people and grow, more space was needed. The church now expects to see increased worship attendance and more people of all ages involved in Sunday Bible study.
“The new building is attracting a lot of interest in the community and we are very thankful to have many visitors,” he said.
Construction began in September 2019 with excavation of the basement, pouring the basement walls, and installing the steel framing and concrete planks for the upper floor. The church had hoped to finish the project during 2020, but they were counting on assistance from Builders for Christ volunteer teams that were delayed from coming until last year because of the COVID pandemic.
The first teams arrived in May 2021.
“Major construction was completed eight weeks later on July 16 when 91 volunteers from South Carolina and a few other states completed the siding, tongue-and-groove ceiling in the worship center and soffits under the edges of the roof,” Dunning said. “A BFC team from Chesapeake, Virginia, built, delivered and installed cabinets in August. Volunteers from Valley, a few local churches, and a few from out of state completed the finish work by Christmas. In total, about 600 volunteers participated in the project, each giving at least a week.
“Without Builders for Christ and volunteer workers, clearly Valley could not have afforded the project any time soon,” he said. BFC leaders “provided valuable consultation and guidance that ensured the project would be financially viable. Then they led the enlistment and scheduling of the volunteer teams.”
Valley’s worship center is the 11th project in the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention constructed by BFC volunteers. Dunning, who volunteers as a church facilities consultant with MWBC, said the largest church building ever constructed by BFC was the 30,000-square-foot Jacob’s Well building in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 2006. BFC has now built three projects for Jacob’s Well and three for Valley in Appleton.
Dunning has led the volunteer missions team from Valley for the past 28 years to help other churches with their projects.
And although BFC is a national organization, in 2019 a BFC-Midwest network of volunteer builders was established to concentrate on projects in the Upper Midwest, particularly projects of 2,000 to 10,000 square feet.