PDBC Renovation on Display

By LORETTA FULTON

Thanks to a $4.5 million renovation project, even the oldest Sunday School class at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church can now watch a TikTok video on the big screen.

“That’s how advanced we’ve become,” joked John Whitten, senior pastor at the church.

The renovation/reconfiguring did much more than add upgraded technology to the campus. It more than doubled the number of meeting rooms available, from 14 to 34, created wide walkways, and made every entry handicap accessible. Even the steps on the building’s west side were leveled. 

The congregation began using the new space in January and on Thursday, March 24, the rest of the community got to see it. Whitten and other church leaders took guests on guided tours. The new spaces, with a configuration to fit any size group, are open to the public. And, church leadership is encouraging its use.

“We want our home to be your home as well,” Whitten said.

John Whitten, left, begins a tour of the renovated spaces at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church on Thursday, March 24. Whitten is senior pastor of the church. Photo by Loretta Fulton

Bids went out for the project in October 2020, which would seem like bad planning. The country was in the grips of COVID-19 and soon construction prices would literally go through the roof. But as it turned out, October 2020 was a good time for bids. That was just before construction prices spiked, and the Pioneer Drive project costs were locked in at pre-COVID rates.

“It was perfect timing,” Whitten said.  

Pledge cards were issued in March 2020, just as COVID was beginning to make a name for itself. After COVID’S impact and uncertainties began to emerge, a letter was sent to the congregation. Adjustments could be made to pledges, the letter stated, because of the unexpected financial hit that COVID was taking on families. Still, $5.7 was pledged for a project that ended up costing $4.5 million. The remainder of the pledged money will be used for future building projects.

During Lent, the 40-day period leading to Easter, church members are encouraged to follow a prayer guidebook titled “Not My Will But Yours.” The intent is to pray for direction for Phase 2, with a new sanctuary as the focal point. 

For now, the congregation is enjoying its brand new space. The corner of one area is labeled ‘Curry’s Corner” in honor of the late Eddy Curry, who died in 2019. Curry had been minister of education at the church for 14 years when he died. 

‘Curry’s Corner” in the renovated spaces at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church honors the late Eddy Curry, who died in 2019. Curry had been minister of education at the church for 14 years when he died. Photo by Loretta Fulton

The timing for the renovation could have proved disastrous. No one knew in March 2020 what the long-term effects of COVID would be. But the leadership at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church decided to move forward. It turned out to be a good decision and one that proved to be a blessing for the congregation. 

“For our church,” Whitten said, “this has been a faith-building season.”

Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene 

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