A year after shooting, a church pushes forward

| February 24, 2010

The dream of the late Rev. Fred Winters to grow First Baptist Church of Maryville continues.

Church and community members broke ground Sunday on a church expansion that will add eighth grade to the Maryville Christian School and improve the church's Illinois Route 162 campus.

"His life lives on," said Loydene Wilson, 71, of Edwardsville, a church member since 2005. "I felt God did it through him."

The $3.3 million project includes a 40,000-square-foot expansion that will double the preschool areas. An indoor playground, offices, 300-seat chapel and room for adult classes are also planned.

Wilson said the project is meaningful because so many young people attend.

"The first time I attended, a whole row of young boys sat in front of me. They impressed me," she said about the high-school age males. "I thought to myself that churches in general were losing young people and this one is not."

Chris King, of Maryville, a church member for nearly 20 years, said it's an exciting time as the church moves forward despite the pastor's death.

"We have been growing at a rapid pace," said King, 41. "We've been doing that for many years under Pastor Fred's tenure. We are at our capacity and need to expand to reach more people."

Winters, 45, was shot and killed during a sermon in March. Terry J. Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, is charged in the killing. He's undergoing psychological exams to figure out if he can stand trial.

The expansion is part of his seven-year plan to expand the church, said Robert Cunningham, minister of administration. "We are continuing to move forward and continuing to grow despite the tragedy."

The church exploded in membership after Winters arrived as pastor in August 1987, growing from 30 members to its current average attendance of 1,500. The church moved to the current plot in 2000 following a series of moves.

Cunningham said the new project is expected to be complete by the end of the year. He said there are no plans to add Winters' name to the project because it wouldn't be in line with Winters' beliefs about naming things after people, even if they supplied money for a project.

"He wasn't big on that," Cunningham said.

Church sets remembrance service

First Baptist Church Maryville officials are expecting up to 2,000 people for special services March 7 to honor their late pastor, the Rev. Fred Winters, who was shot and killed at the church last year.

His widow, Cindy Winters, is the guest speaker for two special services, titled "Remembering and Reflecting: One Year Later" at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. March 7. The church is located at 7110 Illinois Route 162, 1 mile east of Anderson Hospital.

The service will also be streamed online.

For more information, call 667-8221or visit fbcmonline.com

 

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