Pentecostal church ‘catching the vision’ with move

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 10, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Seeking room to grow and a central location, First United Pentecostal Church is planning a move from its current location on Lake Drive to U.S. 84 just south of Ferriday.

&uot;We’re projecting that by this time next year, construction should begin,&uot; said the Rev. Gary Howington, the church’s pastor. &uot;We’re not yet sure if we’ll build it in stages or all at once, but once we start it should take nine months to a year to build the first stage.&uot;

That first stage would include a sanctuary that could seat up to 1,000 people – up from the current sanctuary’s capacity of 450 to 500 people, Howington said.

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About 300 people attend a typical service at the current location, although about 530 attended the last Easter service.

&uot;And they say that once a church gets to three-fourths of its capacity, it starts to drop off in its growth,&uot; said Howington, whose church has been located on Lake Drive since the 1960s.

In addition, the church wants to build educational facilities and a family life center and, in the long term, an institution of higher learning to train ministers.

Final plans and a timeline for construction of those facilities have not yet been finalized, but the entire facility is expected to cost at least $1 million, Howington said.

Once it is completed, the new church will contain about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet, up from 16,000 square feet at its present location.

&uot;But that’s just initially – we could expand from that,&uot;&160;Howington said, noting that the church owns 20 acres at the U.S. 84 site but has the option to buy an additional 20 acres.

Howington said it is appropriate for the church to have a more central location since its members live as far away as Natchez and Wisner.

&uot;We don’t want to consider ourselves to be just the Pentecostals in Ferriday, because we have people coming from all over to attend church here,&uot;&160;Howington said. &uot;This will be a centralized regional location. … We’re trying to catch the vision.&uot;

Once the new church building is occupied, the building on Lake Drive will still be used for ministry, although it is not yet clear what specific programs will take place there.

&uot;We’re going to investigate some ideas of how to put it to use,&uot;&160;Howington said.