Grove Independent Baptist Church recently celebrated the culmination of eight years of planning and work.

“Eight years ago our church looked around and saw we were getting very gray,” explained Reverend Marty Hughes.

He said church member Judd West suggested that they should build a family life center in order to administer to the needs of younger families.

“So we began the project,” Hughes said. “We did most of the work ourselves and paid as we went along.”

Hughes said the congregation slowly built the center and last fall they presented a plan called “Faith to Finish.”

“We raised $25,000 cast and we also raised commitments from people to pay off completion of the first phase,” he said.

The result is a 16,000 square foot facility that includes a 30X40 classroom and a 30X30 game room with games and workout equipment. The building also has a large gym for sports such as volleyball and basketball.

In addition, the building has bathrooms complete with showers, a kitchen, and an apartment for visiting speakers.

“There will be pool and ping pong in the upstairs game room,” Hughes said. “And a treadmill and other exercise machines so older people can get some use out of it, too.”

As the building has taken shape, the congregation of Independent Baptist Church has grown.

Hughes said two or three year ago there were only a couple of teens who attended church regularly.

“Now we have about 20 on Sunday morning and 30 to 40 who attend Teen Focus on Wednesday nights at 6:30. That's our most successful youth program,” Hughes noted.

He said the church has two couples who act as youth pastors, Jason and Becky Dantic and David and Khristy Hardesty.

According to Hughes, the project could have never been completed without the help of a number of individuals, including “Rivers of Life,” a group of Christian men from various churches who donated a great deal of labor to the project.

“We couldn't have done it without them,” Hughes said.

He said Joe Nowlin, who heads the group and seeks to promote unity among Christians, was a great help, along with local contractor Bruce Hensley, chairman of the board, and retired local mechanic Chuck Nelson.

“These men volunteered tens of 1,000s of hours to the project,” Hughes said.