By Rebecca Rose
Killeen Daily Herald
A pulpit dating back to 1912 sits a few feet away from a flat-screen TV, silently flashing images to the crowd gathered to tour the new First United Methodist Church.
After nearly four years and nearly $9 million, the church officially opened its doors Friday morning, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new facilities at 3501 Elms Road.
"This isn't about Methodism or being Methodist. It's about serving (God)," said Senior Pastor Skip Blancett, who spoke at the ceremony. "We will feed the hungry, both physically and spiritually. We will provide peace in the midst of chaos, hope for the deployed and help for those who remain."
Members of the Harker Hieghts and Greater Killeen Chambers of Commerce were on hand to join in cutting the ribbon for the facility, which holds seating for nearly 500 attendees, comprehensive day care facilities and a state-of-the-art media system.
Executive Director Gary McMillan said the new audiovisual features fulfilled a major goal of his.
"To be able to pipe service throughout the building, to show video in every room. This is a dream come true."
The main sanctuary features theatrical lighting over a main stage, which incorporates several features of the old building, including an altar and the church's original pulpit from its first building downtown.
"We brought as much of the old church with us as we could," McMillan said.
Members donated 48 pews, with plans to dedicate them to family members or loved ones.
He said the church also plans to raise funds to turn the massive picture window in the main sanctuary into a stained glass fixture. McMillan estimates the costs of the project to run an additional $100,000.
In addition to rooms devoted to religious services, the facility also features new day care facilities, eight classrooms for Bible study and Sunday school, as well as housing for youth groups visiting the congregation.
Terry Bierwirth, public relations director, said the new facilities fit in with the church's goal to be community-oriented.
"We've moved to a more central location in Killeen. This church is so outreach-oriented. We have fun runs, we feed the homeless. We have so many ways to reach out and help."
Funds for the new building were raised through church donations and through a seed fund generated by the sale of the old building, McMillan said.
Contact Rebecca Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548.