The First Baptist Church of Ponoka has big plans to expand partly due to immediate needs and partly as part of long term planning.
Over recent years, organizers have looked at how they can accommodate their growing congregation, explained Pastor Paul Spate at a sold out fundraiser April 12. “We’ve been looking at how to just enlarge our seating.”
The church was built in 1961 with the gym, kitchen, offices and classroom library added in 2000 and Spate said they have been opening their doors to members of the community, which has added to their numbers as well. “It’s all about the family.”
To respond to the demand, the church needs to raise 40 per cent of the $1.5 million required to build a new sanctuary. Spate said they looked at different ways to increase their seating and space for their Christian education programs and replacing the sanctuary was the best option. He said they are approximately halfway to their financial goal.
Key to their growth appears to be in making the church part of Ponoka. “We’re really trying to move into the community,” said Spate.
Programs are provided weekly that cater to new parents such as the Stepping Stones program, which works with single and teen mothers.
“We’ve just been consistently growing and the pressure’s been there for years,” he added.
A night of art and entertainment
Folks at the fundraiser had a full night of entertainment, complete with artist Lewis Lavoie – who painted and auctioned off his painting for the church that night – and well known Christian humourist Phil Callaway.
Lavoie kept people intrigued as he painted a depiction of a cowboy and horse but it was upside down. Not until it was near completion did he turn the painting around, which led to pleased gasps and comprehension. The painting was auctioned off for $7,500.
The painter also took some time to tell attendees about an interesting art piece he has been working on for the last nine years; a mosaic of Jesus Christ’s portrait, using hundreds of smaller paintings of emperors, kings and queens. He brought the unfinished work to the fundraiser.
“When I look at this, I feel like you’re looking at all the kingdoms throughout history,” said Lavoie.
“The challenge here was how do I paint his face without painting his face?” he added.
Humourist brings laughter and insight
Callaway has written 26 books that bring laughter and joy with a spiritual message. He regaled attendees with witty anecdotes and joked with them, “I am incapable of being deep with you.”
His purpose: “To show them that God can invade their lives with hope and joy.”
Homemade cakes were also auctioned off, one of which sold for $800.