RIBBON CUTTING—Central Baptist members and friends of the community were welcomed at the ribbon cutting of the new parking lot, the first phase of the Central renovation project. (Photos by J.L. Martello)
More than two-years after the unveiling of its renovation rendering, Central Baptist Church, located in the Hill District, has completed the first phase of its four-phase renovation project. On Aug. 2, the Wylie Avenue church held its parking lot dedication.
“If you take care of the house of God, the God of the house will take care of yours. We are just getting started with the vision of this church,” said Central Pastor Victor J. Grigsby, who has led the church since 1996. “I am so very proud of the Central family. They embrace the vision and we’re showing that determination, persistence and faith pays off.”
REV. VICTOR GRIGSBY, pastor of Central Baptist Church
The revitalization of the parking lot included the correcting of a retaining wall and the creation of a parking plaza, consisting of new lights and a staircase. The price tag for the first phase was approximately $529,000, with a large amount going to underground issues such as work to sewage lines, capping off lines and correcting drainage issues.
“This phase was resolving an issue that needed to be corrected before we could move on to the next phase,” he said.
According to Rev. Grigsby, the master renovation is expected to cost $4.5 million. In April 2011, the church unveiled the rendering of its “new” state of the art church. According to the church’s website, the capital campaign has reached 20 percent of its goal. Rev. Grigsby said in the beginning it was a question of whether to build a new edifice, with the same square footage and seating capacity as they currently have, or renovate the old one. But once they looked into the cost of building a new church, it was decided that renovating would be more effective.
“So far it has been solely membership contributions. Members give extremely well and make their sacrifice. It’s been their hard work and strong faith in God. The Lord will provide, He will take care of it,” said Rev. Grigsby.
ERNEST DARBY, deacon of Central Baptist
LIZETTE RIOS-WILLIAMS, president of Williams Architects, PC
The church has not currently, but will begin to look further into private and public donations, as well as grants, although there are very few for actual brick and mortar projects, he said.
“If we leave the building in the condition it is in right now for the next generation, there won’t be a Central for another 122 years. We trust that with the ‘new’ Central, we’ll be able to serve and be adequate for five more generations,” Rev. Grigsby said. “The driving force is that the luxury we enjoy, in terms of this church, came from two to three generations ago. In 1945, members who sacrificed renovated the current building.
So, I’ve been asking the members, ‘what sacrifice will we make for the next generations?’ We’re not doing this for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so they can say, ‘those folks in 2013 we’re amazing. Look at what they developed and the sacrifice they made.’”
The next phase, which Rev. Grigsby said is expected to begin within the next 18-24 months, will address the exterior of the church and is expected to cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.
“We want to take it from looking like a warehouse for souls and turn it into more of a ‘traditional’ appearance with religious icons. So many people tell me they ‘passed by and didn’t even know the church was there,’” said Rev. Grigsby.
After the exterior portion, the next phases of the renovation will include a re-design of the interior and the building of an additional atrium that will include an elevator.
DANIEL BARONICK, vice president of commercial lending, S&T Bank
Besides new physical changes to the building, Rev. Grigsby said there are four more elements to the church’s redevelopment vision to better the community, which includes creating a restoration of lives and making more of an impact on the community spiritually; an entrepreneurial component, which will foster and grow small businesses through its Central New Development Corporation, to help restore hope and economic vitality in the community; the creation of affordable residential housing; and an academic component-the building of its Christian Academy to educate the youth in the community.
With the “new” Central, Rev. Grigsby said he has challenged the congregation to live up to its name.
“I want Central to be once again Central to the city of Pittsburgh. It was once a keystone in the city that was looked upon for leadership,” he said.
Reverend Grigsby said through the new developments and the support of the various community entities and its neighbors, Central will be well on their way to reach their ultimate goals: restoring a people, rebuilding a church and revitalizing a community.
(For more information on the renovation phase, call 412-566-1437 or visit www.centralbaptistpgh.org)
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