October 11, 2017 Edition

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Gethsemane Baptist dedicates
new church building

Visiting prior the dedication service for the new Gethsemane Baptist Church auditorium are (from left): Dr. Derek Collins, pastor; Bro. Randy Bailey, pastor of Fairview Missionary Baptist Church in Violet Hill; and Bro. Terry Wallace.

Gethsemane Baptist Church held a dedication service Saturday afternoon for its new auditorium at 200 Southeast Sixth Street in Walnut Ridge.

Dr. Derek Collins, pastor, said church leaders were in full agreement that a new auditorium was needed. It only took 10 minutes for the leadership to decide they would pursue the project and obtain a loan.

"We didn't build a building just to have a new building, we needed a new building," Collins said, adding that they had run out of space to seat everyone.

The new auditorium is expected to accommodate 750 people on the main level, with potential to seat a total of over 1,000 people using additional space in the unfinished balcony. The new worship center also includes a spacious lobby, restrooms, other side rooms and extended parking.

The project took 15 months, from demolition of the former church to building the new one. "The devil fought us tooth and nail," Collins said, adding that he lost some sleep during the process.

However, the church overcame each obstacle to get the project completed. "It's nothing that we've done, it's the Lord," Collins said.

Dr. Collins presented plaques of appreciation to many individuals and businesses that helped with the building project, from demolition, to work with drainage, the parking lot, decorating and more. One of those recognized, Bill Atkinson, passed away during the time of the project, and his family represented him at the presentation.

He also recognized deacons and trustees, who are listed with Collins on a plaque that will eventually hang in the church lobby. Deacons are Luther Allen, Herschel Sawyers and Tony Waldrupe. Trustees are L. Dee "Sonny" Bilbrey, Kenny Wright, Boyce Bonham and Dewayne Barker.

The plaque notes the Oct. 7, 2017, dedication of the Gethsemane Baptist Church Auditorium and includes the scripture verse, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29:18

Guest speaker for the dedication was Bro. Jim Chandler of Arbanna Baptist Church in Mountain View. He, along with several other pastors, many of whom are graduates of the Gethsemane Bible Institute, attended the dedication.

Keeping to the old ways, and following the old paths of religion and values was a recurring theme in both Dr. Collins' and Bro. Chandler's messages.

The service included musical numbers from the choir, a small group of youth singing a cappella, congregational hymns and a slide show of the demolition and construction project.

Collins and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Walnut Ridge almost 17 years ago. Gethsemane was down to 12 active members at the time. Since that time, the church has grown tremendously, and the Collins family now includes three daughters.

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