Westwood Baptist renovates youth areas

The Garage youth center at Westwood Baptist Church recently opened after the church completed renovations on part of the children’s ministry areas. (Reporter Photos/Clarke Stackhouse)

The Garage youth center at Westwood Baptist Church recently opened after the church completed renovations on part of the children’s ministry areas. (Reporter Photos/Clarke Stackhouse)

By CLARKE STACKHOUSE/Staff Writer

ALABASTER — A retro garage furnished with vintage gas pumps, cars and tools is the newest addition to Westwood Baptist Church’s youth center. The Garage opened on Aug. 17 after a 40-day renovation period bringing the new theme and decor to Westwood.

Pastor of Families Ric Callahan said the church was in need of basic repairs and maintenance and they decided to renovate two of the kid’s areas with new themes and space to fit the growing congregation.

“The church was in need of some updates so we decided to focus on some of the kid’s areas to make them a fun place for the kids to worship,” Callahan said.

He said the garage is geared toward students in first grade through sixth grade. Callahan said they have around 170 students attend each Sunday.

“With the new garage, they’ll check in at the touch screens on the gas pumps and be greeted by our volunteers dressed as mechanics,” he said.

Vintage themed gas pumps serve as a check in station when kids enter The Garage.

Vintage themed gas pumps serve as a check in station when kids enter The Garage.

Callahan said the garage theme was a playful way to make church enjoyable and give the kids a comfortable environment to worship God.

“It’s a fun, unique setting to have our ministry in a garage,” Callahan said. “It’s also a way to remind the kids that God restores, renews and refreshes our lives, just as mechanics do to our cars.”

He said that they had a mix of contracted workers, volunteers and staff help renovate the spaces with Method-1 Custom Interiors, of Trussville, leading the design. A local junkyard donated different items for the stage and main worship area. He said they just have a few “little tweaks left” until they are finished with The Garage.

He said they have a little more work to do in The Backyard, the pre-school area, which will be have different elements of summer playtime and have lemonade stand themed check-ins.

Callahan said they wanted to design the spaces with questions parents asked their kids after church in mind.

“A lot of times after church parents will ask their kid if they had fun, if they learned something and if they want to come back,” Callahan said. “We wanted to make sure the new spaces would allow the kids to answer positively to those questions.

He said they have about 150 volunteers each Sunday to help work the areas.

“We keep growing and growing,” Callahan said. “We have a lot of young families moving into the community and we wanted to cater to them and their children. We hope the new spaces will bring even more people to our church.”