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June 13, 2017

Warrenton Baptist Church plans ministry center

Built in 1849, the church on Main Street can accommodate up to 250 people.
We want a facility that has multiple uses. We know we want to have Bible studies. We know we will have worship. I think it would be cool to have art shows there.
— Pastor Jay Lawson
Worship/Ministry Center
• What: Warrenton Baptist Church wants to build a one-story, 5,240-square-foot building for services, ministry and community uses.

• Where: 27.8 acres at the end of Alwington Boulevard, behind Brumfield Elementary School, Warrenton.

• Property owner: Warrenton Baptist Church.

• Details: Large meeting room, office, storage, two restrooms, "warming" kitchen and “crying” room.

• General contractor: Dominion Construction Group, Warrenton.

• Architect: James F. “J” Tucker, Warrenton.

• Next: Prepare and submit land-use application materials to Town of Warrenton.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
It will offer the same message, making a different architectural statement.

The Warrenton Baptist Church hopes that recruiting formula will help diversify and expand its membership.

The Old Town church wants to construct a 5,240-square-foot worship and ministry center on almost 28 acres in the southern portion of town — behind Brumfield Elementary School — that will appeal to people “who would have an ear for what we would like to tell them but would not set foot in a traditional church,” Building Committee Chairman Bill Beals said.

An “extension” of the 123 Main St. church, the proposed building “would be more neutral-looking than a church,” said Mr. Beals, a designer for Golden Rule Builders in Catlett. “Our objective is to reach unchurched people, people that don’t know Christ and be an avenue for them to listen, to hear the word.”

The property would be served by Alwington Boulevard, which provides access to Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Brumfield.

The proposed building would include:

• Worship/meeting space that could accommodate up to 200 people.

• A small office and storage.

• A “warming” kitchen primarily to heat prepared food.

• Two restrooms.

• A “crying” room, where parents can take disruptive children and continue to observe and listen to services.

Warrenton Baptist will continue to conduct services at the Main Street church, which can accommodate up to 250 people, Pastor Jay Lawson said.

The church has about 700 members on its “roster” — with 250 to 300 “very active,” Mr. Beals said.

While Warrenton Baptist continues to refine details related to the project, “we’re targeting to spend $1.5 million on the site and building,” he said.

The church has set aside $800,000 for the project, Rev. Lawson said.

In the fall, it will launch a capital campaign to cover the project’s development and three years of operating costs — totaling about $2 million, the pastor said.

“We’re hoping to raise as much money as we can,” he added.

Still, the church probably will incur “a small amount of debt that we can pay off in a short period of time,” according to Mr. Beals.

The extent and range of the building’s potential use partly depends on the community’s response, he suggested.

“We hope we will have an active group of people there that want to worship weekly, whether it be a Friday night or a Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week,” Mr. Beals said.

The space also could be adapted to “a café-style atmosphere where people could meet in small groups,” he said.

Rev. Lawson agreed.

“We want a facility that has multiple uses,” he said. “We know we want to have Bible studies. We know we will have worship. I think it would be cool to have art shows there” and perhaps festivals.

He also expressed interest in programs that could include Brumfield Elementary and nearby Lord Fairfax Community College, for example.

As envisioned, the proposed 30-foot-tall center would be clad in vertical board-and-batten siding, with a metal roof.

“We don’t want it to jump out and catch your eye,” Mr. Beals said. “We just want it to be pleasing in the landscape.”

Longtime Warrenton Baptist member Arabelle L. Arrington, who died more than seven years ago, donated the land to the church in 2005.

About a year later, the church began a capital campaign to build a large gym, which would double as a sanctuary, and classrooms on the property. But what the church hoped would be a $2-million project had ballooned to $6.5 million, Rev. Lawson said.

At roughly the same time, the recession began to kick in and several big donors told the church they would be unable to make good on their pledges, he said.

“We said, ‘Let’s wait. Now is not the appropriate time’,” Rev. Lawson recalled.

By 2014, the church had reconsidered that plan, favoring a more modest building, he said.

The proposal will need town government approval. Because the church so far has provided the municipal staff no specific information, it remains unknown what approvals would be required, according to Planning Director Brandie Schaeffer.

The church plans to submit application materials in the next few weeks, Mr. Beals said.

If all goes according to schedule, Warrenton Baptist hopes to begin using the center next spring.

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