By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
GARDENDALE — The opening of a new children’s ministry wing marks the completion of Gardendale First Baptist Church’s North Campus building along Interstate 65.
The Kids Kingdom wing opened early last month, and is located to the right of the main sanctuary as viewed from the main entrance. The wing contains two levels; the upper floor is for pre-school children, while the lower floor is for those in elementary grades.
The opening puts all of the church’s Sunday-morning ministries under one roof for the first time since the new building opened in August 2010. Previously, children’s ministries were still housed in the south campus, the church’s former home on Main Street. That meant that parents had to drop their children off at the old campus before worship services in the main sanctuary.
“When we’d have first-time guests, I would tell them, ‘We’re glad you’re here but you’re going to have to take your kids to the south campus,’” senior pastor Kevin Hamm said. “They’d say, ‘We don’t like that,’ and I’d tell them, ‘I don’t, either.’”
The upper level check-in desk is designed to resemble a treehouse. A computerized identification system helps with security, making sure children are released to the correct person. The floor includes a jungle-gym play area.
Downstairs, grade-school kids enter an area designed to look like a movie theater, complete with a flashing marquee and posters. A new state-of-the-art auditorium features staging facilities and video equipment.
Since the wing opened, children’s attendance has been averaging 650, executive pastor De Allen said. Overall attendance including Sunday school is at about 3,700 over two services each Sunday, he added.
The children’s wing completes the church’s current plans for the north campus building. The south campus is still heavily used during the week with church offices, student ministries, a dining hall and recreational facilities.