Open it up and see all the people

September 14, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- Larry Aikens has a "problem" that many pastors would love to have -- his congregation at Emmanuel Baptist Temple is outgrowing its building.

"At Easter 2005, we started having two Sunday morning worship services. We were turning people away from our single service because there were no more seats," Aikens said.

Even then, attendance at the early service reached more than 210 people. As of Aug. 23, the later service had swelled to 458 attendees.

"It was very tight," Aikens said.

Counting the nursery, total Sunday attendance often reached 770 people.

When the church started a Christian school, space requirements hit the critical mark.

After some adjustments were made to the current structure at 16221 National Pike west of Huyetts Crossroads, it became apparent that an addition would have to be built.


"We've been talking about a new sanctuary for about 15 years," Aikens said.

A large multipurpose building -- The Hampton Center -- was built instead a few years ago and named for longtime pastor Ed Hampton.

Aikens said the church officers stepped up the pace in the fall of 2005 and church contractors were called in for interviews.

Zion Church Builders of Michigan was chosen and construction began in the spring.

One reason Zion was picked was because Emmanuel had visions of a very large sanctuary and wanted to be sure Zion could handle it.

The addition is 41,354 square feet, Aikens said, and will have seating for 1,500 and as many as 700 more by incorporating adjacent space.

Aikens said there will be a day care complex for children ages 2 to 4, restrooms, about four offices and 18 classrooms that will be used by the Emmanuel Christian School.

"We doubled our enrollment this year to 50 students," at the school, Aikens said. His wife, Holly, is principal.

Aikens said the school is for Christian families committed to their church.

Summer 2010 is the completion goal for the new building.

For more information on the church or school, call 301-582-0378.

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