By Josette Keelor
First Baptist Church of Middletown expects a good turnout for its dedication at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Following its recent move from Double Toll Gate, the church has already made strides toward making its new, larger location home, according to Pastor Mike Blitch.
The church has added a new, state-of-the-art sound system and audiovisual equipment to the sanctuary as well as closed circuit TV in the lobby to assist late arrivals, overflow and parents with young children.
"Normally it's for those that work as ushers," Blitch said. From the lobby, visitors will see announcements on the TV and will be able to participate in the service.
The former First Baptist Church of Stephens City moved in part so it could accommodate more of the community, and so far has seen good numbers.
"We've already maxed out our attendance, on Easter," he said. "You really get that on Easter." He said Palm Sunday also saw record attendance.
In the old, smaller church, the congregation was often at capacity, but now, most Sundays, the church is about 60 percent full. Despite the move, he said almost everyone who was attending is still making the drive.
"We want to take advantage of the opportunity we have now to grow and expand," he said.
"People are beginning to move toward the church," he said. "We've been doing really well. I can't complain at all."
Sunday's dedication will be at 2 p.m., following the 11 a.m. service and 12:30 p.m. lunch.
The dedication will begin with the church recognizing community members influential in helping First Baptist begin its new home.
The church praise band and the Promiseland Quartet will perform, and Jay Neal of Woodstock will be the guest speaker.
Blitch said he invited Middletown Town Council members and local clergy to attend. He also plans to recognize the Rev. Roger C. Mullins and his son Chris Mullins of The Meadowbrook Bible Baptist Church, which inhabited the building at First Street until the sale became official in April.
"This is the start of a new ministry," Blitch said. "We also hope to recognize their achievements through the years to establish the building in their ministry."
Other upcoming plans include starting a community senior center in the church fellowship hall later this month and renovating the basement, which Blitch said "will give us double the amount for classroom space." He also plans to have the parking lot paved.
On Sunday, he said, "We're hoping for it to be a special time. You only get one chance to dedicate a building, and this will be it."
For more information, call 540-664-1541 or visit "First Baptist Church of Middletown, VA," on Facebook.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org