Vandalia's new worship center is taking form

Vandalia's new worship center is taking form
A lot of progress has been made since this photo was taken. With the exterior wrapping up, attention is shifting to the building's interior. [Nathan Lilley]
By: 
Nathan Lilley
General Manager

Vandalia First Baptist Church has been busy.

Really busy.

Despite a long, cold winter and a year of general adversity, the church is nearing completion on an all-new family worship center. The center, located at 214 North Lindell Street, is tough to miss if passing through Vandalia, with a location at the town’s four-way stop.

For the church and its parishioners, it’s a welcome sight and one that will address a number of ongoing logistical issues.

“Currently, we are operating out of four buildings on three blocks: the current worship center, an education center, a multipurpose building and rented office space,” said senior church pastor, Brian Lehenbauer. “A typical family will use three of the buildings on a Sunday morning, so the new addition deals with several issues.”

These issues became a focal point of discussion in the years leading up to 2020 when the project got underway. Getting the green light to move forward in March 2020, work began to clear the lot last summer and exterior general contractor Kevin Welch began construction in August. Life for everyone, including churches, has been challenging during the last 12 months as COVID-19 has left its mark. But First Baptist has kept going strong.

“Before the pandemic, we were running between 150 to 160 on Sunday morning,” Lehenbauer said. “In the last few months, that number has been closer to 110, with some folks watching from home.”

When completed, the church will gain approximately 11,800 square feet of much-needed space. The building will house new offices, a new sanctuary, and a new children’s Sunday School area.

The building’s exterior is expected to be completed this spring, with interior work beginning soon mid-April. Project completion is expected in 2022.

“It will help us all be under one roof on Sunday mornings,” Lehenbauer said. “It will be more accessible and it will help us to provide a caring, safe and secure environment for families. Our current building that we call the multipurpose building will continue to be used for larger outreach events like food pantries, blood drives, community gatherings and more.”

The church hosts two food pantries each month.

First Baptist Church, Vandalia, services are: Sunday School, 8:45-9:45 a.m. and Sunday worship, 10 a.m. All are welcome to attend. In addition to Sunday services, there’s a 7 p.m. Sunday youth service and a Wednesday night ministry for children is soon to start. The youth ministry is for children ages three through sixth grade, is called CHARGE.

“We provide a meal for the kids at 5:15 with games, an activity and a Bible lesson going from 5:45 to 7,” said Lehenbauer.

First Baptist also hosts an adult Bible study at the same time.

“We are thankful to call Vandalia and this area home,” Lehenbauer said, “and want to invest our lives and resources here. We want to serve the community in the love of Jesus Christ and help them find a relationship with him.”

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