ARTESIA — Humble beginnings might be overstated in some circles. But when talking about Faith Baptist Church in Artesia, every word about that statement may be true for some members and longtime citizens of the community.
“Faith Baptist Church had charter members back in 1975 that decided to get together and start a church and called a pastor, Jerry Toles, in April, 1976. The church met in Valley Savings and Loan, and as soon as they could, bought a barracks building at 13th Street and Chisum Avenue and remodeled it. The building is still there today, “Another church uses it,” said Robby Ballew senior pastor.
In the early 1980s, Ballew said the church bought three acres of land at their current location at 20th Street and Grand Avenue. He said a new church was built at that location and had some other add on’s over the next next few decades.
This past weekend, Faith Baptist welcomed a new worship center to the community.
Ballew said it took a number years for the new worship building to open.
“We met as a church seven years ago with the vision of we needed to do something, because we were filling up,” he said.
He said the church was looking at multiple options, one of those was more construction.
“As a church we voted on it and decided we’d like to build a new auditorium and we could continue to meet together entirely as a church,” he said.
Along with the construction, Ballew said the church was also considering multiple services.
Six years ago, church officials started meeting with architects and then a contractor was hired. He said ground was broken 16 months ago and Bradbury Stamm from Albuquerque did the work.
“The price tag was much steeper than any of us envisioned,” he said. “We believe that God can and will provide, we do what He wants us to do,” Ballew added.
He said the project cost $14.9 million and the worship center seats around 900.
Ballew added the worship center and the surrounding foyer will be available for the general community.
“We also envisioned having Christian concerts and bands come in and we have designed it for that also,” he said.
“Our foyer space we designed to have that for the community,” he added. “There are multiple groups in Artesia that use our facilities, but we’ve always had to put them in the (church’s) gym.”
Ballew added that the foyer space could be used for banquets, weddings and memorial services.
Faith Baptist Church also has an audio-visual lighting system that Ballew called “it’s own separate animal.”
“We know we live in a day and age where technology is important,” he said. “So we have a 40-foot in length video screen by about 18-foot high, we’ve got a video production suite to produce professional videos with audio.”
He said the lighting system is designed to, “enhance everything we try and do, not just as a church, but when we do the other venues here.”
Ballew said the system is “very complicated.”
He added the same system can be found in the foyer.
Ballew said the church had a couple of “soft openings” before last weekend’s grand opening just to work out the kinks.
“The grand opening went much better than the soft openings, but we still have areas (of) what we see happening and how we want to use the audio, video and lighting. I anticipate it being six months before we’re actually comfortable with the system using it like the way we envision using it,” Ballew said.
He added the company that installed the high-tech system is expected to be around well into December showing church personnel some of its finer points.
He said there are some things still need to be taken care of on the building side.
Ballew added,”we’re three to four weeks out from saying, “We are done.”