When it comes to providing a true family atmosphere, the church formerly known as Full Gospel Tabernacle is getting right to the ‘Point’.
Changes to the place of worship at 285 Talbot St. East in Leamington include the new name LakePoint Family Church, but also include two major structural additions. On Sunday, Oct. 9, LakePoint held the grand opening of its new Cafe and Play Place — a cafe and espresso bar for adults and an indoor playground for younger guests. Barinetti Construction started building the new additions in early May of this year, a project that was officially completed with some finishing touches on Saturday — the day before the grand opening.
The event was attended by members of the church including lead pastor Nathan Albrecht, Leamington mayor John Paterson, representatives of Barinetti Construction and other members of the public eager and curious to get a first-hand look at the new facilities. There, visitors were treated to coffee samples and a tour of the new additions while kids tried out the new playground facilities.
“We decided we wanted something like Lakeside Bakery along with the playground at McDonald’s,” Albrecht explained. “They (Barinetti Construction) did a great job. We’re very pleased with the work that they’ve done.”
Albrecht noted that the desire to alter what was until recently the FGT Church was an idea that had been in the works since 2012 with support of the project arriving last year. Fundraising and donations to the tune of $333,000 allowed the plan to come to fruition.
Leaders of the congregation, Albrecht explained, felt that transforming the building to include amenities for both adults and youth would serve as an ideal way to allow members of both church and community to connect in a meaningful way. Of the church’s current 600 members, approximately 150 are children.
“We felt that we had a unique opportunity to serve the church and the community and make them feel at home as part of one big family,” Albrecht continued. “Many of us remember a time when we’d just sit on our porches and talked to our neighbours to get to know them. Since then, we’ve lost that face-to-face interaction that engaged our communities. That’s why the Cafe and Play Place was built to serve both the church and the community.”
The church’s idea to install a cafe came before the playground area. Later, it was decided that it would be easier for adults to interact with one another if their children had an on-site means to keep themselves occupied — a consideration that led to the idea of the Play Place.
Church representatives are still working on what hours of the week the cafe and playground will available. While the group wants both to be used regularly, it must also determine when staff and volunteers will be available to regulate the new attractions.
“We just want to create a hospitable environment,” Albrecht said, noting that in the past, public schools have used the church for graduation ceremonies.
Eventually, the 3,300 sq. ft. addition could be made available to rent for birthday parties and other celebrations.
The Full Gospel Tabernacle Church first opened its doors 85 years ago on Queen Street at what is now The Gallery Restaurant. The congregation grew steadily from there and eventually moved to Talbot Street East across the street from its current address. The current location has been in use since 1985 and included a new auditorium built in 2001. The name change to LakePoint Family Church is the result of the wish to reflect the area’s unique geography along the Great Lakes. The world “Family” became a part of the new moniker to symbolize the church’s commitment to operating as a family church and serving families throughout the community.