First Baptist Church Palmer Groundbreaking Community Family Recreation Complex

Contributed by First Baptist Church, Palmer

Recently, First Baptist Church Palmer held a groundbreaking service for a new Community Family Recreation Complex. The complex includes a safe green space, a park and recreation area that affords quality opportunities for family and social connection, physical exercise, playgrounds and sports recreation. Not only for families who attend First Baptist Church, the complex will be open for all families who live in the neighborhoods close by and in the Valley.

First Baptist Church is positioned on top of the hill, across the Glenn Highway from the Alaska State Fairgrounds. According to the City of Palmer’s statistics, there are almost 1,000 single-family homes and over 200 multi-family housing units within a three-mile radius of this site, and most within one mile. 

FBC Pastor, Dr. Bruce Rowell, explains, “This complex will attract and be accessible to thousands of families and individuals outside this area.” Having a place to belong and gather with community members, he said, “The geographic location makes this Family Recreation Complex a convenient resource for individuals and families to stop by after work or school for a brisk walk or jog around the track or to meet on the weekends for a soccer match, softball game, a picnic or just to be together.

The work of planning and laying the groundwork for the complex was accomplished by a committee of dedicated FBC members from various demographic groups. Knowing that families are the heart of FBC worship, service and ministry, a recreational complex will be an added tool for helping meet the needs of families. 

“Meeting the needs of families is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of this new ministry,” said team chairperson, James Jenkins, Jenkins is recently retired from the U.S. Army, and he and his wife moved to Palmer from Ohio.  

Serving on the committee with Jenkins is Shane Seltzer, whose family including their four children, are active members of FBC, teaching Sunday school classes, discipleship classes and more. “I am excited to have the complex for my children as they grow. We live close to the church and being able to bring them to a safe place to play close to home is important.” 

Out of town for the groundbreaking was Nathan Machacek who also served on the planning committee. Machacek and his family are long-term residents of Alaska and understand the importance of family recreation for healthy families. 

Participating in the service were Deacons Kenny Loggins and his wife, Vickie, and Ken Ishmael and wife, Donna. Mrs. Loggins is a preschool and children’s teacher. “I know this will be a fun place for many children’s activities and for families to come together to play in a safe and fun environment,” said Mrs. Loggins. “I am wholeheartedly behind this ministry,” said Mrs. Ishmael, who is also a FBC children and youth teacher. “Knowing our children will have a bigger place to play with more fun options is important as we plan meeting the needs of growing families.” 

Other active deacons and their wives, Bob and Donna Mauldin and Marty and Etta Weatherup, were also among those participating in the groundbreaking.

The Family Recreation Complex will serve as a local resource where people can engage in individual and family athletics and different exercise activities. “Not only is the space planned for recreation and play, but included in the plan is a pavilion picnic area which will be available for family and community connection in a quiet, safe, tobacco and smoke-free environment,” said Pastor Rowell. 

Young children will have a place to connect with one another as they run and play on two separate age-appropriate playgrounds. “This complex will truly be a place where individuals, families and the community can come together, as well as improve their health while having fun, getting to know one another better and even meeting new friends that carry over into other aspects of their lives,” explained Dr. Rowell. 

Phase I will involve surveying, clearing and grading 3-4 acres of FBC property followed by laying the foundation for a future walking/jogging track and hydro seeding grass. Phase II includes completion of a walking track, building two age–appropriate playgrounds and construction of a pavilion. 

“Beginning last fall, church members committed to the financial and spiritual success of this ministry,” said Pastor Rowell. “Everything the church can accomplish is through the blessings of God, freely shared by individuals with open hearts and hands.”

“As children joined their teachers and other adults in breaking the ground for this new complex, we are dedicating this space anew and this ministry to the vision of the future of FBC,” said Pastor Rowell. The spiritual well-being of FBC members and the outreach ministries to others is part of the mission of FBC.