LEWISTOWN - The pews at Evangel Baptist Church sat empty in its original sanctuary for many years.
Recently, they found a new home with a young church in Washington, D.C.
The old Lewistown sanctuary also is full again thanks to Youth Pastor Dave Purdy and a group of volunteers who transformed it into a youth room.
Complete with plush couches, pool and fooseball tables, air hockey, a bandstand and more, the space is becoming the popular hang-out zone for the church youth, Purdy said. Some of the youth also helped splatter-paint the walls, he said.
"The kids love it," Purdy said. "The excitement in here is unbelievable."
Though attendance usually hovers around 30 students every week, Purdy said he counted as many as 90 who have come to the Sunday night Escape Youth Group.
"Our church has the idea that we need to reach out to the community," Purdy said. "We are not just here for ourselves."
For about four years, the old sanctuary sat empty, because the church began to use its gym for services, Purdy said. This year, the congregation agreed to put the old sanctuary back into use, he said.
The congregation wants the new youth center to be a place where teens can come and feel comfortable hanging out and having a good time, Purdy said.
"- And quite frankly so they can let me beat them at ping-pong," he said with a laugh.
Through providing a safe and loving environment, they hope the youth will come to understand how Jesus can affect their lives, he said.
Eventually, they hope to open the center a couple days a week for after-school activities for seventh- to 12th-grade youth, Purdy said.
Some of the church's youth activities include an annual all-nighter, summer camp with missions project, Super Bowl bash, bowling, roller skating and a corn maze, Purdy said.