Fielder Road Baptist Church opened and dedicated its new church facility this past Sunday. With a Texan flavor, the bold 98,000 square-foot multi-purpose Metro Center hosts food courts, computer kiosks, a retractable chair loft, orchestra pit, and is a state-of-the-art center that will be used for Sunday services and community events.
The Metro Center cost a total of $17 million to build and was constructed over the course of the past 16 months. The building has 1,750 seats, a 16,000 square foot stage and backstage, ticket booths in the lobby, and kiosks from which parishioners can access information about church venues. The first public services are schedules for January 16.
"We're going to use this facility to build bridges of faith to the community," said Dr. Gary Smith, church pastor. Six commercial concerts and community events are booked through March in the Metro Center.
The center itself is well suited for any technological presentations a preacher might want to use. The building is equipped with four catwalks of light in the ceiling, a video-production lab with 20 by 12 foot magnification screens, and a soundboard system capable of movie-quality audio production. In addition to this, there is also room for a 50-piece ensemble in the orchestra pit and a six-piece choir loft that can hold 200 singers.
Although the church will open this next weekend for services, more developments are planned over the next few years. Phases II and III of construction are slated, adding a total of 1,700 more seats, food court, food vendors, grand staircase, and elevators.
"Our goal is to have a total of 7,000 to 8,000 people on campus for our two services every Sunday," said Michael Wierick, executive pastor of the 9,300-member congregation.
The 47-year old church decided to expand at its current location rather than to relocate. Church leaders said that they have worked to smooth relationships with present congregants to simplify the inauguration of the mammoth facility.
Though the building is well-equipped for both preaching and cutting-edge technological performances, the church does not believe the gospel message will be affected.
"It's the same message," said Smith, "and it's preached to one heart at a time."