The hallway of the children’s church area at the new location for Fellowship Baptist Church has the theme of a typical street seen in many communities throughout America, though it has been painted in a cartoonish, animated style. Leader & Times photo/
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
A walk through the children’s area at what is soon to be the new location of Fellowship Baptist Church in the former Food Bonanza building reveals some of the visions of young people’s imaginations.
Churches are often thought of as a small community, and the Liberal church’s children’s area will look quite similar to that of a town itself.
The floor of the hall will be a street, according to FBC Children’s Pastor Andrew Linder, with the walls containing some of the images in a town.
“This fire department wall will have a dog here, and the water actually comes out of a fire hydrant,” he said. “We have a generic wall with a couple of kids walking by. We have an ice cream shop. We have a first and third grade meeting room for their class.”
Linder said the goal of the children’s area is a fun, kid-friendly environment, and that includes the image of an aquarium on a wall of, appropriately, a water fountain.
“There’ll be fish in there,” he said. “We have a police department, pizza parlor and kind of a parks area down here. A girl will be swinging from a tire swing from the rope. Below are some animals and dirt, and a kid throwing a frisbee down there.”
Linder said all of the money raised for the children’s area project was raised by the kids themselves.
“They’ve done fundraisers,” he said. “They sold fudge and pumpkin rolls over Christmas and some other fundraisers such as penny contests between the boys and the girls to see who could raise the most pennies. It’s called the mile of pennies contest.”
Linder said youth did other things to raise funds, such as a concession stand at FBC’s Wednesday night Kidz Club.
“There’s been a number of things they’ve done to make this possible,” he said. “The church itself hasn’t paid for any of the work that’s been done up here. They’ve made it all possible by either what they’ve given or what they’ve raised through fundraiser projects. They’ve worked hard for it. It’s pretty neat to see it coming together.”
Near the entrance of Kidz Town, there will be a wall with a Bible them and a picture of Jesus.
“It’ll come to life once we get all that stuff on there,” Linder said.
The air brush work on the walls was done by Liberal’s Jeremy Griblin.
“He specializes in cars, but he does a great job on walls,” Linder said. “It’s something that obviously takes somebody who knows what they’re doing.”
The Kidz Town theme is a combination of the air brush work and the murals on the walls of the children’s area, with the street going down the floor of the hall.
“Our goal is to have a kid-friendly environment where kids can enjoy coming to church, they want to bring their friends to church,” Linder said. “Our Kidz Blast theme is ‘Combining Faith With Fun.’ Our desire is to make it a fun place, but yet to help them grow in faith. That’s our purpose. That’s our goal, and hopefully, by adding the Kidz Town theme, an addition on our children’s wing, it’ll allow us to accomplish that.”
Linder said hopes are that the children’s area portion of FBC will be done by the end of February.
“Most likely, we’re looking at being in the building here and having services by the end of March,” he said.
Linder estimated the new Kidz Town will have about three times as much space as the area occupied in the current church at 216 W. Wilson.
“Our children’s ministries areas over there were very limited, which is one of the reasons we opted to build a new building,” he said. “In our current classrooms, many times, we have standing room only in the classrooms for the kids. It’s just wall to wall. This is going to provide us with room to grow even more, and I think we will just naturally see growth because of a new environment and a bigger facility that will allow us to grow. We can’t grow any more with where we’re at.”
Linder said the upper level of the former grocery store will be contributed to youth driven ministries from elementary school to college, with the downstairs area being used for nurseries and adult programs.
“It starts with 2 and 3-year-olds at the beginning of the Kidz Town area and works its way up through third grade,” he said. “On the other end, we do have a fourth through sixth grade room, which is called the J12 room. It stands for Jesus at 12. It’ll be decorated as well with air brushing.”