Workers answer a higher calling Grace Baptist Church addition taking shape

Workers answer a higher calling Grace Baptist Church addition taking shape Cory Gonyo, assistant pastor of Grace Baptist Church, and Brad James, son of head pastor Wayne James, work 30 feet above the ground on the peak of the new Grace Baptist Church building Wednesday. by David Lias Sixteen volunteers are trying to do three week's worth of work in just one.

There's a very good chance they'll be successful.

The volunteers � from Central Baptist Church of Bearden in Knoxville, TN � have joined local members of Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion to answer a higher calling.

They are helping to build a new place of worship for the Grace Baptist congregation onto the church's current facility located at 1102 E. Main Street.

The workers are concentrating this week on completing the electrical work in the new building.

Some volunteers are experienced electricians � others come from a variety of vocational backgrounds. "One of them is a professor � he teaches electrical mechanics, and quite a few are licensed electricians," said Cory Gonyo, the assistant pastor at Grace Baptist.

Volunteer groups from Missouri and Alabama worked at the site in late June.

In what often looked like a re-creation of the old-fashioned barn-raisings that were common on the plains over a century ago, they built the walls, secured the rafters, and constructed the roof.

The building's design and its initial rough wooden appearance � complete with a row of small windows near the peak of the roof � has earned the structure an endearing nickname: the ark.

"The new sanctuary is going to seat a little over 280 people," Gonyo said. "It's over 30 feet tall at its center peak. We're also going to add on an entry way with office space and some more rooms on the south end. The front door entrance will face Main Street."

Grace Baptist Church was constructed in 1988. The congregation has over 60 members, and attendance often

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climbs over 100 after classes begin at USD.

"We are overflowing in education space and in worship space. We didn't have enough room for all of our Sunday school classes, and during worship service, it was getting, as we lovingly say, comfortably full," Gonyo said laughing.

The present church building will still be put to good use after the congregation moves into its new home.

"Our current building will be used for education, and the current sanctuary will be a fellowship area, where we can serve food and it will also be a good gathering space after the worship service," Gonyo said.

As he spoke, the constant banging of several men hammering echoed through the interior of the new church.

The steady beat measured the rapid progress being made on the new place of worship.

"We still have at least four more groups scheduled to come here," Gonyo said. "We have groups scheduled to work here through August."

The building will be weather-tight in a few weeks, he said. "We hope to have the facility complete in mid- to latefall," he said. "The community has been really encouraging, so we're going to have an open house probably during a Saturday in September."

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