More than 100 people turned out on Sunday for groundbreaking ceremonies for the First Baptist Church in Monett. Construction on the 14,972-square-foot project started this week.
The congregation purchased 75.43 acres of land from Barbara Copeland at the south edge of Monett on Highway 37 in 2004. After years of planning and saving, preparations were ready for groundbreaking.
The day began with services at the present church at Fourth and Dunn, followed by a dinner at the church. Then the congregation traveled to the new location. The land was formally dedicated for its new purpose with a reading from Psalms, singing of "We are Standing on Holy Ground" and a prayer by Mike Larmer, chairman of the deacons.
Pastor Bill Cox invited 12 different groups to come forward and take a turn at breaking ground with shovels. Staff, deacons, trustees and various committees instrumental in making the move forward possible took turns at the shovels. The choir, all wearing blue shirts, also took a turn. The greatest applause came for the youngest group ranging in age from Addison Branch, 1, to Alex Ragsdale, 12.
The new church will face the highway and have a central santuary that can double as a gymnasium with room for more than 300 chairs. The wings beside the sanctuary will have classrooms, and one wing will have a basement beneath it.
According to Cox, the congregation hopes to move into the new location by the summer of 2011. Plans call for building the sanctuary after the multi-ministry building is completed. Charlie Huntress is the general contractor for project.