Shiloh Baptist Church opens new Family Life Center

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Leaders at Shiloh Baptist Church in McDonough hope their newest facility will enable them to have a greater impact on church members, and on the community as a whole.

L to r: Ralph Easterwood and his wife Gwen stand with Rev. E. W. Lee at last Saturday’s grand opening for Shiloh Baptist Church’s new Family Life Center. Photo by Nick Vassy

The church, at 262 Macon Street, unveiled its Family Life Center with a grand-opening celebration Saturday. Church pastor, the Rev. Dr. E.W. Lee, said the center will help to meet the needs of area residents in a number of ways.

“We will have what we call a Senior Suite so we can serve senior citizens daily with enrichment classes, Bible study and things like that,” explained Lee. “We have a full-size gymnasium for basketball, volleyball, exercise and other activities. We have an indoor running track or walking track. You can walk or run around the track 15 times and you will have walked or run a mile. We also have a weightlifting center to improve wellness and health.”

The grand-opening weekend coincided with the annual homecoming festivities at Shiloh Baptist, and included an Open House to highlight the center’s numerous offerings. Lee pointed out that the 33,000 square-foot center features space for a preschool, after-school programs and a computer lab.

“All of this is to sort of impact the kids at an earlier age so that we can have the preschoolers ready to go into kindergarten and into the regular school system, and help the after-schoolers with their tutoring and their studies so they can stay up to their grade level in math, reading and so forth,” he said. “We will have 35 trainers in all areas that we’ll be dealing with, and we’ll have volunteers as well. We want to expose our youth to more opportunities than they could ever imagine by exposing them to the areas of science, technology and the arts. We want to work with the school system and with our kids to make sure they are getting what they should be getting.”

The investment for the facility was around $4.1 million. Lee said the center represents a new era for the church, and its efforts to minister to area residents.

“We’ve been doing some fundraising over the last five years, and trying to pay down our debt on our present sanctuary so that we can invest in the Life Center,” he said. “We were able to raise a little over $2 million to assist with debt reduction and get this building started.”

Lee said planning for the center has been ongoing for about six years, and that church members are excited to be involved with it.

“They have been very patient with us, but they’re ready to get in there and get things moving,” he said.

The center’s Executive Director, Sharron Smith, has attended Shiloh Baptist for the last 16 years. She said senior residents, in particular, will benefit from the programs the facility is able to offer.

“They just simply love it, they just can’t wait to get in,” said Smith. “[The church has] a Bible study on Wednesday nights but because of their age, they don’t like being out at night. So, we will have a Bible study at 10 o’clock on Thursday morning. In the Senior Suite, they have their own café, their own workout room, two multipurpose rooms, nutrition classes, and sewing classes. If they just want to come in and sit all day, they can do that.”

Smith is hopeful that the center will come to be known as a place for the community to come together, and as a way to help young people learn and grow.

“This is for our kids,” she said. “We are investing in our future. We want them to have the skills required to succeed in life.”

For more information, call the church at 770-957-2344.