CHANNAHON — The members of First Baptist Church of Channahon celebrated their 50th anniversary on July 3, and as part of their celebration they invited the entire community to a four-day carnival.
While last week’s carnival wasn’t the first the church has held since they moved to their new property, and it won’t be the last, they did arrange for it to coincide with the anniversary celebration, said Karen Blan, wife of Pastor Randy Blan.
The kid-friendly carnival was held on the church’s 26-acre property on U.S. 6. There were carnival rides, games, face painting and tattoos and live music for entertainment.
First Baptist Church of Channahon originally opened their doors in an old feed store on Canal Street in town in 1963.
The store was cleaned up and eventually more rooms were added to accommodate the congregation and all their community service work.
As the congregation grew, Families of Faith Christian Academy was opened. FOFCA is the only Christian High School in the Channahon-Minooka area.
First Baptist’s new building has gone up in stages, with the final stage – the worship center – still under construction. There’s hope that they’ll be able to hold services in the new center by Christmas, Karen said.
It was kind of a backward way to build the new facility, Randy said. They started with installing two baseball fields on the property in 2004. Port-a-potties were used for the sports programs and a food wagon brought concessions.
“That’s all we had (to start),” Randy said.
Then came the 7,000 square-foot pavilion with four bathrooms and a concession stand.
In 2006, they began building phase two, the first part of the building which houses the Christian academy, two gymnasiums and school offices.
“That was on purpose,” said Randy. “We built the ball fields to reach the community and the school to help with education.”
Many churches do the opposite, he said, building a worship center first and then run out of money and motivation to build a family life center.
The third phase of construction began in 2009. When it’s completed, it will house the worship center, additional offices and a state-of-the-art children’s center for daycare, preschool and kindergarten students from FOFCA.
A fully licensed day care will open at First Baptist in August. Applications are being accepted now, Karen said.
Even without an official worship center, the congregation moved to the new building and began holding services in the gymnasium.
“The church has had a very sweet spirit since we moved in here,” said Randy.
Over the years, more than 1,000 volunteers have come to help build the new First Baptist Church of Channahon.
They have come from all over the U.S., mostly from other Baptist churches.
During the week of the carnival, a mission team from Florida was onsite to work on the worship center. They bunked out in the offices and set up an entertainment center in the conference room.
Since opening the doors in 1963, First Baptist Church has been deeply involved in the community. They run a food pantry that feeds nearly 17,000 people.
They have community-wide sports programs for kids all the way through adults. They’ve held concerts and carnivals, like the one last week to bring families together.
The church’s former facility on Canal Street has now become Living Stones Church and is a part of First Baptist.
“At Living Stones, it’s a different group we are reaching,” said parishioner Dave Johnson. “(They are) people who don’t feel like they belong in church.”
But that congregation has continued to grow and is led by Pastor Joe Pospischil.
Channahon is such a melting pot of people from all different backgrounds with all different needs, said Randy.
First Baptist Church is always seeking ways to reach out to the community and meet their needs.
“Not everyone is going to come here, but I want to find another way to reach them,” Randy said. “We are always trying to service the community and the family.”