Making room for growth
Expanding its facilities to accommodate growth has prompted the North Platte Berean Church to demolish its fellowship hall, according to Brent Burklund, elder board chairman.
Burklund said taking down a building that is full of memories is bittersweet. Volunteer labor and equipment have brought the building to the ground, but the “sweet” part is the growth that has driven the project forward.
“The fellowship hall has been in place for more than 40 years, and I keep hearing from people that it was created to be temporary,” Burklund said with a laugh. “On Facebook, many people have shared memories, and there have been many funeral dinners, many wedding receptions — a lot of different things over the years.”
The addition that will replace the hall will be about 11,000 square feet and will cost approximately $1.7 million.
“The overall church growth since 2011 has increased from one gathering at that time to three gatherings currently,” Burkland said. “With that, we’ve had more kids and more needs for spaces.”
Burklund said the new facility is just one piece of a bigger part, however.
“From a church standpoint, the vision was to reach out,” Burklund said. “Sometimes facilities can really push you to look at yourself, and there’s a time that we always need to do that, but the bigger picture is that we always need to be looking out, to reach out to people.”
Before raising funds for the current project, the church decided to give first to a well for Samson Charles, who died July 11, 2016, in a kayaking accident in North Platte. Samson attended the Berean Church in his short time int the community.
Samson, of Majimoto village in the Serengeti District of Tanzania, had come to America to play basketball for North Platte Community College. One of his hopes was to someday provide a water tank for his parents’ village.
The North Platte Berean Church helped bring that dream to fruition and the well is currently functioning as intended.
“We were really excited because Samson’s well was the first fruit of giving,” Burklund said. “That was the first thing done on the ‘More spaces for faces’ and it was for people not even here (in North Platte).”
“More spaces for faces” is the theme that drives the overall ministry of the church and defines what it has determined as its purpose, both in North Platte as well as across the world.
The next piece of the overall project has begun with the demolition of the fellowship hall and completion of the new addition is targeted for late summer or early fall of 2019.
The Berean Church was founded in the 1930s and over the years has had numerous additions, Burklund said.
The services, renamed “gatherings,” are scheduled two on Sunday morning, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., as well as Sunday evening at 6 p.m.