The long-awaited and much dreamed-about covered walkways crisscrossing the campus of First Baptist Church of Augusta are finally a reality.
Workers stroked the last of the cream paint onto the walkways' graceful columns as well as the doors and curving balustrade in the church's new 28,000-square-foot addition this week.
The $3 million expansion and renovation will be dedicated at noon Sunday. The event is part of a day-long celebration, including a special service at 11 a.m., an open house at 5 p.m. and an appreciation service honoring planners, contractors and workers at 7 p.m.
Dr. Gardner C. Taylor of Brooklyn, N.Y., a recent Medal of Freedom winner and nationally acclaimed preacher, will speak at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. It will be his second time to address the 4,500-member congregation.
Dr. Taylor, pastor emeritus of Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, was invited to deliver the Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale University. Several collections of his sermons have been published.
The minister wrote the forward to Hearing God in a Noisy World, a book by First Baptist's pastor, Dr. Timothy Owings. "Dr. Taylor is a good friend of the church," said the Rev. Rocky Cannon, church administrator.
The congregation broke ground in June 1999 for a three-story addition on the back of the 18-year-old sanctuary.
A marble-floored welcome center and an administrative suite occupy the first floor.
Two Tiffany stained-glass windows from the church's old sanctuary on Greene Street will be installed in the center. The windows, more than 100 years old, will have lights behind them, said the Rev. Cannon.
About 250 senior members will meet for Bible study in the five new classrooms on the second floor. They will be able to stay under the same roof for sanctuary services, said the Rev. Jake Malone, associate pastor for senior ministry.
The remaining adult departments will occupy the former administrative office space in the adult building. First Baptist has planned a $1 million renovation of the area, including the installation of elevators, said the Rev. Malone.
With baby boomers fast catching up, the church expects senior classes to grow even larger, he said.
A state-of-the-art music suite on the third floor features a choral rehearsal room for about 120, choir robe rooms, staff offices and a large music library with 12-foot ceilings. Bookshelves go from floor to ceiling, said the Rev. Cannon. "It is a true library."
The new music suite is "a wonderful gift to the music ministry from the church," said the Rev. Stan Pylant, music minister.
For more information, call 733-2236 or see First Baptist's Web site: www.fbcaugusta.org.
Church: First Baptist Church, 3500 Walton Way
Sunday Events: Dr. Gardner C. Taylor will speak at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday; dedication of an addition and covered walkways at noon, after the morning service; open house at 5 p.m.; appreciation service honoring planners, contractors and workers at 7 p.m.