A Fort Smith church celebrated the opening of a new building with special guests.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and U.S. Sen. John Boozman were among those who gathered at Evangel Temple for the grand opening of the church's new Dino Hutchings Worship Center on Sunday morning. Senior Pastor Don Hutchings said Dino Hutchings, his late brother, served as Evangel Temple's minister of music for 18 years before he died of cancer in July 2016.
Construction for the building took about 17 months beginning in January 2017, Hutchings said. However, the church has been planning it since January 1991.
"I'm talking about meeting with architects and building committees, and so we had to purchase 14 different lots here, and pay for all of those, and it's been a wonderful, but long journey, and it came to fruition today," Hutchings said.
Hutchings said construction was completed July 1, which was when the church moved into it. The building is 32,000 square feet, with a sanctuary that seats about 1,000 people. Other features include a lobby with a cafe.
"The children's chapel seats 230, and there are four nurseries, believe it or not, ... and 16 children's rooms," Hutchings said.
In his remarks during the event, which began at 10:30 a.m., Hutchinson said he frequently gets asked certain questions. Among the examples he gave were what was he doing about the state crime problem and what his solution was to the state drug problem.
Hutchinson said although he has answers he gives for these questions, he wants to tell the answer is there needs to be more Evangel Temples across Arkansas.
"Yes, we can build more prisons, and yes we could put more money into social services, but the bottom line is things do not change in our society without a change of the heart," Hutchinson said. "And it is the preaching of the word of God in this pulpit, it is the ministry that you have to one another and the outpouring of the spirit of love, whether it is the (Hurricane) Katrina folks that came here and you showed love to them, or whether it is giving out the food baskets that we have seen through the years. You minister to people, and through the ministry to people, you change lives to the word of God."
Hutchinson said what was being celebrated Sunday was what those present have done as a church and a congregation to make a difference in the local area and how they set an example of "the believer."