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Church opens its doors

Four Doric columns will welcome worshipers Sunday when Main StreetBaptist Church on U.S. 41 opens its doors for its first worship service.

The church, which traces its origins to December 1963, outgrew its space, and plans for a new building were formulated in early 1988.

Many of the contractors and subcontractors who built the new church are members of the congregation.

Towering 92 feet into the sky is a steeple that is a replica of one on a church in Providence, R.I. It is one of only three similar steeples in the country.

"We couldn't have it over 100 feet or we would have had to put a light on the top because we're so close to the Inverness Airport," said deacon Rupert Smith, who took time out from staining some wood panels to talk about the church.

Just through the set of double glass doors is a foyer with a reception desk where visitors will be welcomed and literature will be handed out. Two large crystal chandeliers light the reception area.

The church sanctuary seats 535 people on the lower level and 300 in the balcony. The color theme is mauve, which is carried out in the carpeting, upholstery and new choir robes. "We tried to stick to earth tones throughout the church," said Earl Acree, a member of the church's publicity committee.

A special feature on the left-hand side of the balcony is a console with a computerized sound system. "Three people went to school for three weeks to learn how to operate this," Acree said.

"It is designed so that the acoustics are exactly the same in every part of the building. There are speakers about every eight feet, and the sound is exactly the same in the last row of the balcony as it is in the front pew in the lower part of the church."

Special microphones in front of the choir enable every voice to be heard. "I've heard voices I never heard before," he said.

On an elevated area behind the altar is a baptistry, where new members are immersed. Next to the baptismal are changing rooms. That level also contains the choir room, four counseling rooms and classrooms. "Not a bit of space was wasted when this church was designed," Acree said.

Facilities for the handicapped include seven extra-wide parking spaces and special basins in the restrooms that allow easy wheelchair access.

Meanwhile, the old church building has been converted for use as a

fellowship hall, classrooms and offices.

When asked about the total cost of the new church, Acree said, "We don't have the final figure yet, but I can say about $1,100,000, which is within $100,000 of the total cost. Of course, that includes everything, the carpeting, the furnishings and the organ. A new piano was donated anonymously by a member of the congregation."