In the small Newton County community of Racine, on a winding road leading through the hills and valleys, a new sanctuary now stands, the fourth building in an eight decade long history for the Racine Apostolic Church. The first service will be held on Sunday, January 12, preceded by a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m.
"We're pretty excited about it," Pastor Steve Epley said. "We are thankful for it."
Built adjacent to the old church, the new sanctuary is 80 feet wide and 150 feet long with a seating capacity of 400-450 members in the pews.
"We run about 200 pretty regular," Epley said. "So we have room for growth."
The new structure is the fourth to house the Racine Apostolic Church over the years.
"The best we can tell, the church has been here about eighty years. This is the fourth building<" the pastor explained. "They had a little box like building, then they built another building in '62 - that was the building that was remodeled into our educational building, destroyed by the tornado. The former church was built in 1977, they moved into it in July, 1977."
About four years ago, a tornado destroyed the 1962 building, which had been used for education. As church members considered the options, the decision was made to build a new church.
"So we were trying to decide what to do," Epley said. "We decided if we were going to spend the money, let's do a new sanctuary instead of just education building."
Sunday School classes will be held upstairs in the new church, which also has many other features that include men's and women's prayer rooms, a state-of-the art sound booth, the pastor's office, a church office, electrical room, janitor's closet, a nursery and new restrooms.
"Our ladies will be very happy with the nursery," Epley stated.
In addition to men's and women's restrooms, there's also a family restroom.
"We might have someone come to church who may have an affected child or a woman with a little boy or a man has a little girl and they don't feel comfortable taking them into a restroom, we decided we would do a family bathroom," Epley said. "We thought that would be beneficial."
A platform at the front of the sanctuary offers space for the musicians and for the pastor, who noted that the pulpit would be in place by Sunday. The pews were scheduled to arrive midweek.
Wednesday evening provided a time for the move.
"We're having a moving night tonight instead of having church," Epley stated on Wednesday.
Plans for the former building are uncertain but it will be put into service. "We think maybe we will do something with our youth, maybe make it into a youth center. It's a nice building itself," Epley said.
In addition to a new parking lot with more than 100 spaces, a school, gymnasium and cafeteria also exist on the property, behind the new church. There's also a cemetery on site.
The entire project took not quite a year to complete. Dirt work began in February last year and according to Epley, around 1500 loads of dirt were moved. A steel building was put up in April.
Brother Schroder, the contractor, was on site.
"He was our general contractor - he gets most of the credit," Epley stated. "He's done a fine job."
Brother Jimmy Jones was also present, making last minute touch-ups. Epley said Jones was responsible for the majority of the painting. Epley also credits his wife, First Lady Sheryl Epley, for the decor.
"My wife has an eye for this kind of stuff," he said.
The ribbon cutting will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 12 and the church would like to have anyone there who can help them give God the glory.
On Sunday, when the first service is held in the new sanctuary church members will come together in praise and worship as they have for eighty years in four different buildings. The new Racine Apostolic Church is located just west of Racine. For more information about the church or to contact Pastor Epley, visit the website