Church breaks ground for new auditorium

By Sean Patrick Murphy

Grace Bible Church of Mount Laurel is hoping a new auditorium will help with the mission of spreading the good word.

“The expansion program calls for a new auditorium encompassing 5,700 square feet that will seat 240 with the capability to expand to 300 seats in future phases,” church elder Ken Heberlig said. “A large stage area will support musical and theatrical performances, and the new design also takes into account a spacious foyer and office area.”

Pastor Robert Spicer has been with the church since 1970.

“I’m just delighted because I think that with the new facilities we can minister more effectively to the people who are already in our church and to the people in the community we hope will come and join us,” Spicer said.

There are as many as 150 people in the Grace Bible Church congregation.

Spicer was around for the groundbreaking of the existing church building in 1974.

The total cost of the new auditorium is about $1.8 million.

Justin Van Reed, associate pastor since 2008, was youth pastor for a year.

“It’s a very exciting time in our church,” Van Reed said, noting the current building is about 36 years old.

He also indicated that Spicer is getting close to retirement.

“Hopefully with this new building the ministries the mission of the church will continue for another 40 years and beyond,” Van Reed said.

The associate pastor said the current auditorium will become a multipurpose room and fellowship hall which will provide more opportunities for youth and others to become engaged in the church.

He also said the new space will be used for weddings.

Keith Brinke has been a church member for six years.

“I’m very excited,” Brinke said. “It’s been a long time coming.

“They’ve been trying to get to this point since I’ve been here,” he added, noting the fund-raising for the new auditorium has been going on since before he joined.

Despite “some ups and some downs” the project has finally gotten the green light.

“Now I think we’re doing exactly what God’s asking us to do,” Brinke said.

“I’m hoping it will make people realize that we’re here,” he said, indicating the current building is set back from the road.

“I think it’s central to what God’s asking us to do,” Brinke said. “Basically to go out and make His word available to everybody that you can and that’s what we’re doing.”

The firm providing project architecture is Holberg/Adison P.A., of Medford and site engineering by Taylor Wiseman & Taylor, Mt. Laurel. Construction will be completed by April of 2012 through construction management provided by E. Allen Reeves Inc., Abington, Pa.

Grace Bible Church is an independent, non-denominational church.