First Baptist Church plans to be discussed Dec. 13

December 8, 2022

First Baptist Church in Lewes announced plans to build a new 14,000-square-foot worship and education center and site improvements on its property at the corner of Kings Highway at Baybreeze Drive. 

A public hearing and possible recommendation to Lewes Mayor and City Council regarding the site plan is set for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Margaret H. Rollins Community Center. 

After considering many alternatives, including an elevator or lift, church leadership concluded that other significant structural and maintenance issues mean that renovating the present building is not a viable option. In 2016, the church began in earnest to explore the possibility of building a new facility. The sale of a portion of their property in 2019 to the adjacent Big Oyster restaurant enabled the church to create a longterm master plan for the four-plus acres of property that remain.

That plan involves demolition of the present red-brick building and construction of a new 14,000-square-foot facility. A second phase anticipates the future addition of a new family center.

The church has hired architectural firm George, Miles & Buhr LLC to design a building that fits with the historic character of the town but also communicates the ongoing relevance of the church’s message. Regional Builders Inc., which has extensive experience working with the intricacies of coastal construction, has been tasked with leading the project. These firms have worked with Beacon Engineering in Georgetown to design a building that meets the church’s needs and budget and significantly reduces its environmental impact.

Jon Reddick, who has served as the church’s pastor since August 2020, said, “Our goal as a church is to help people know and love Jesus Christ personally, grow in their relationship with him, and then go out and actively serve the Lord, thus repeating the process. We view ourselves as stewards of property and buildings that belong to the Lord and have always tried to use them creatively to accomplish his mission. Unfortunately, our facilities have made it increasingly difficult to do that.”

The primary handicap of the present facility is that it offers no ground-level access. The church has constructed a ramp on the west side of the building and offers to assist handicapped and mobility-impaired individuals, but Reddick is concerned. “As our oldest and dearest members age, they are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to navigate the ramp. The result is that at a time in life where they dearly desire to enjoy the comforts of worship and fellowship, they are unable to continue attending,” he said.

In April 1955, a group of biblically minded Christians who came to the area for the industrial opportunities of that era formally chartered the First Baptist Church of Lewes. Between 1955 and 1958, these individuals sacrificed and saved to purchase the land on Kings Highway and build the basement of the building in which the church meets to this day. Relying largely on the volunteer labor of church members, several of whom were skilled masons, the young church added a second story in 1962, the present sanctuary with its laminated arches and tongue-and-groove wood paneling.

Additions in 1968 and 1977 created additional space for fellowship and education to meet the needs of the growing congregation. In 1999, the addition of a steel-framed family center to the property added a gymnasium and office space, allowing the church to serve the community in new and creative ways.

Over the years, these facilities have accommodated a host of ministries including an active Joy Group for seniors, a drug and alcohol addiction recovery program called Reformers Unanimous, a basketball league aimed at encouraging young adult men to seek God and serve their families, and a week-long summer soccer camp for children.

“We want you here,” said Reddick, speaking to members of the local community. “We are excited to be able to welcome our neighbors into an attractive, safe and comfortable building where they will be able to hear the scriptures taught and receive the same love and spiritual care that has marked our congregation for the past 67 years.”


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