LEWISTOWN The wait is over.
Eight months after excavators began construction on the new worship center at Evangel Baptist Church, the doors opened to a congregation that was "thrilled" with the completion of the project, said Rev. Dave Purdy, lead pastor at the church.
On May 5, he said, leaders of the church decided, "Today's the day."
Worshippers were welcomed into the new sanctuary, which looks more like a modern auditorium. Over 500 blue-gray, plush high-backed seats are arranged in an arc facing a stage that stretches across the width of the room.
At the front, three large panels line the wall. Colorful lights and graphics flash across them from projectors hanging overhead. Purdy said the three small projectors are used for the presentation of scrolling graphics, and one large projector provides lyrics so worshippers can sing along. A collection of lights move color around the stage.
The entire presentation is run by a series of computers and sound equipment in the back of the room.
Purdy said the new worship center also includes a baptistry filled with water and stage areas for the worship team to perform.
Outside the sanctuary is a small classroom, sitting area and coffee bar with tables and chairs. Three flat-screen televisions hang on the wall and scroll missionary, youth and general church announcements, Purdy said. When church starts, the TVs switch to a broadcast of the service.
"The Lord has allowed us to do a lot of really neat things," he said.
Before the center was finished, Purdy said Sunday services were held in the gymnasium. Now, the church will be able to better utilize the gym throughout the week for other activities and accommodate more worshippers on Sundays.
Purdy said the total cost of the project was about $1.2 million, funded entirely by the congregation. Construction started on the center on Aug. 28, 2012, and was completed May 1.
To celebrate the completion of the new worship center, a dedication service will be held at 10:20 a.m. May 19 at Evangel Baptist Church in Lewistown. For more information, call the church at 242-2769. The church is located at 375 W. 5th St., Lewistown.