$100,000 'blessing' to benefit Christian life center

October 08, 2004|HERB BROCK

BUENA VISTA - An aging basketball goal stands next to the old Buena Vista Baptist Church building. For years that goal and the parking lot around it served as the congregation's recreational program, if you want.

But on land between the 1954 building and the bigger, newer church facility across the parking will be sprouting two goals at either end of a full-size basketball court - an indoor gym that will be the centerpiece of the church's Christian life center.

It's no longer big news when a church constructs such a facility. There has been a boom in the construction of Christian life centers all over the area. What makes this center unusual is how it came about and who's paying for most of it.

Not long ago a couple from central Kentucky approached the church's leaders with an idea it had not even considered. The couple said it wanted to donate $100,000 to the church for the construction of a Christian life center or a similar facility that would enhance the congregation's outreach program.


Anonimity was the only condition

The couple set only one condition for the donation - that their identity not be revealed and they forever remain anonymous.

"This couple are devout Christians who look for churches where they can donate money for projects that can help the church reach out," said the Rev. Keith Weldon, pastor of Buena Vista Baptist. "There are absolutely no strings attached, except they want to make sure the projects are for good purposes and that (the couple) stay anonymous."

The church's board unanimously voted to accept the donation and then developed plans for a $125,000, 7,200-square-foot center, according to longtime lay leader Ronnie Lane, who joined the church the year it was founded, when he was 14 years of age.

The facility will include a gym for basketball and volleyball, a walking track, and rooms for offices and meetings. The gym floor will also be used for special church meetings and suppers.

The board has hired Tucker Construction Co. of Liberty to build the center but is still looking for an architect. Weldon and Lane said there won't be a construction timetable until an architect is found and he or she has time to formalize plans and blueprints.

Also, the board has yet to begin a fund-raising campaign - another reason for not rushing into the project, said Lane.

"At the time this donation was offered us and we decided to take it and apply it to a Christian life center, we had all we could handle on our plate," he said. "We had just finished work (on the church building) and that involved a lot of fund-raising and the accumulation of debt.

"In our situation, we certainly were not planning any major projects of any kind. We weren't thinking about a Christian life center or any other building effort, big, or small, for that matter," he said.

They believe God had a part

But Lane, Weldon and other church leaders felt there was a reason why the couple chose Buena Vista Baptist for its largesse, a just-completed major project not withstanding. And they believe God had a part in leading the couple to the church.

"It's a blessing, what this couple has done, and we are going to see that their wishes are fulfilled," said Lane. "We were a little perplexed about why we were picked as well as being concerned about the timing, given our financial situation because of the church project. But we're thrilled we were chosen."

Lane and Weldon said the church plans to share the facility with the community.

"Garrard County is one of the fastest-growing counties in Kentucky, and that's reflected in our growth. We're up to 350 members and growing," said Weldon, adding that there is only one other church in the northern Garrard community. "This facility will be for the use of the whole community."

The only regret Weldon and Lane have about the project is the congregation can't thank the generous couple whose money will cover most of the cost of the facility in person.

"We would love to honor them with a ceremony, perhaps name the building after them," Weldon said. "But they don't want any of that, any kind of recognition at all. But we can thank them through our prayers, and we are believers in the power of prayer."

And in the mystery that somewhat surrounds the new Christian life center that one day will be built, the facility is the result of a prayer that was not made but one that was answered, just the same.

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