A local church is expanding its’ facility because the congregation is growing.
First Southern Baptist Church, 1818 S. Main, is building a new building east of the present one, which will be the FSBC Family Life Center.
James Collins is in his third year of pastoring the church, and the church has grown from 12 to 130 people, he said.
“The church was small,” Collins said. “We’ve had tremendous growth.”
“I taught on the Passover last year,” he said. “We didn’t have enough room, so we decided to expand.”
The church’s childrens program includes AWANA on Wednesday evenings.
“We have a big children’s program, 80 kids on Wednesday night,” Collins said. “We needed a place for them.”
AWANA stands for Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed, from 2 Timothy 2:15 in the Bible.
In addition to that growth, the Cornerstone Bible Church, at 6th and Horton, merged with FSBC after its’ pastor left.
Ben Workman, the former pastor of Cornerstone Bible Church, was called to a church in Oklahoma, his home state.
“They wanted to get back closer to home,” Collins said of Workman and his family. “He loved it here but wanted to go and do that.”
That congregation asked Collins to fill in preaching and help look for a new pastor.
After a few months, when the pastor-less congregation felt like God was working in the First Southern Baptist Church congregation, “They wanted to be a part of where God was working,” Collins said.
Approximately 25 people came from the Cornerstone congregation to the First Southern Baptist congregation, Collins said.
An expansion was in the works.
The new building will be two-stories and feature a multi-purpose room, classrooms and a kitchen and measure approximately 80 feet by 120 feet. The multi-purpose room will be used as a fellowship hall and gym. It will be built on the east side of the current church building.
Groundbreaking will be in the spring.
“April or May, hopefully,” he said.
“We are not going into debt,” Collins said. “We are doing the building in phases.”
Fundraisers have been scheduled for the year including a recent pancake feed and the preparing and delivering of a luncheon meal to Peerless Products. In May the church will be part of the town-wide rummage sale and there will be a fundraiser at the Bourbon County Fair in July, he said.
Collins believes God led him to Fort Scott.
“I was in the Army as a chaplain,” he said. “I was retiring. I was being considered for a big church in Oklahoma. We were on vacation and a friend said ‘You need to check out Fort Scott.'”
The pulpit committee asked him to come and preach.
“When we got to the city limits of Fort Scott, I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart ‘This is where you are coming’,” Collins said. “I always had a heart to be a small town pastor.”
“The first year and the last year of our four-year-old’s life I had (served in the Army) in Iraq,” Collins said. “It hit me. I wanted to go where I could close the door and take my kids fishing. That was a little bit of my motivation…a slower pace.”
“We are pouring our lives into the community,” Collins said. “We love being a part of Fort Scott.”
He and his wife Amanda have three children: Abby, 14 years old; Tim, 12 and John, 8.