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Chapel construction relies on volunteers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)--Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary leaders are in the midst of planning the construction of a new chapel complex -- one of the largest projects in MBTS history encompassing a welcome center, increasing chapel capacity to more than 1,000 seats and creating additional classroom space.

An integral aspect of the planning phase includes enlisting a large volunteer effort -- more than 1,500 people -- to offset construction costs of the 40,000-square-foot facility approved by MBTS trustees in October.

MBTS President R. Philip Roberts noted, "It doesn't matter what level of skill is possessed, we're looking for churches and individuals from across the Southern Baptist Convention who are willing to commit their time and energy into making this project a reality."

Another key volunteer element is Builders for Christ, encompassing a network of volunteer teams who assist Southern Baptists with building churches in locations that appear to be in significant need of evangelism.

"Through our network of construction missionaries," BFC coordinator Lawrence Corley said, "we will provide a number of skilled laborers to lead volunteers from all walks of life in accomplishing the task of building this new chapel complex at MBTS. We don't require anyone to possess a particular skill set, but we seek everyday folks who are willing to sacrifice a week of their life to make a difference in God's Kingdom."

Builders for Christ, which has constructed more than 50 churches since 1961, organizes three teams annually to work on church construction projects. Areas of expertise that BFC provides include wood framing, electrical conduits, wiring, electrical service and fixtures, plumbing rough-ins, HVAC ductwork and piping, roofing, drywall installation, cabinetwork, finish carpentry, door and hardware installation, brick veneer masonry, and painting.


In recent years about 1,700 volunteers from more than 100 churches have networked together through the organization, which is based in Birmingham, Ala.

"Most of the volunteers for this project will network with other church groups," Corley said, aiming for more than 60 church teams from 25 states to Kansas City for the "church raising." Volunteers pay for their travel, lodging and food, and they give of their vacation time to expand God's Kingdom. "Each team is merged into a very organized process to ensure that their work is meaningful and productive," Corley said. "Over the years, God has abundantly supplied the workers for our efforts, but with a project of this magnitude, other teams are very much needed for us to accomplish His work at Midwestern."

The groundwork and foundation preparation phase for the chapel project begins in early 2010, with the BFC volunteer construction effort slated from May 26 through Labor Day.

"As churches, families and friends around the country plan their mission efforts for the upcoming year" Roberts said, "we ask them to prayerfully consider joining Midwestern in making an eternal, world-changing difference through this chapel project. Above everything else, we covet your prayers. To complete this God-sized task will be a true testimony to the power of prayer. Thirdly, in the area of finances, we'll need further assistance so we can complete this project and be debt-free."

Outlining the need for a new chapel complex, Roberts said, "By building the complex we will alleviate crowded chapel services, be able to host much larger conferences, workshops and graduation ceremonies. It will also allow further seminary growth by freeing up the space in our current chapel for library expansion. Thus, we will be able to consolidate our library into one facility and notably increase the number of volumes.


"Greater efficiency and effectiveness in training students for the completion of the Great Commission is our goal in this undertaking," Roberts said. "We are praying for the Lord to move among His people to see this chapel built for the glory of God."

T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Churches or individuals interested in joining hands with MBTS on the chapel complex project can contact MBTS at 816-414-3700 or by e-mail at To contact Builders for Christ directly, call 205-567-0597 or e-mail at

Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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