Beacon nearly ready to shine its light on Waterloo

While there’s still some work to do, First Baptist Church of Waterloo officials proudly provided tours of its new Beacon multi-purpose ministry complex Thursday during a “project in progress” luncheon.

“This isn’t your grandmother’s nursing home,” church member Lisa Dean said at the start of the guided tour.

In 15 months’ time, more than 700 volunteers — including hundreds of Builders For Christ helpers from across the country — have provided more than 80,000 hours of work into the conversion of the former Canterbury Manor elder care facility at 718 North Market Street into a complex that will eventually house a 400-person-capacity fellowship hall, kitchen, café and children’s education center.

Some of the areas mostly completed at this time include the seven-room youth education area serving children in sixth grade through college, and the colorful “Team Kids” learning area for younger children (grades preschool through fifth).

Also nearly complete is the Lifetree Café, which will offer programs on everything from politics to prayer upon its official opening Tuesday night, April 29.

The entertainment stage inside the café was made out of the old Canterbury Manor front porch, Dean said.

The Lifetree Café experience is a scheduled hour of “stories and conversations to feed the soul,” according to FBC-Waterloo Pastor Steve Neill. The hour typically includes a short original film and guided conversation.

A local host directs the hour.

“It’s sort of like a live, local talk show—with an inspirational twist,” Pastor Neill said.

Topics, which change weekly, focus on popular life issues. Topics may include such things as loneliness, immigration, health, angels, guilt, prayer, and life after death.

Lifetree Café will be offered inside The Beacon at 7 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Admission is free. Snacks and beverages will be made available.

Questions about Lifetree Café may be directed to Dean at 314-249-7742 or

Another feature of this café is a kids area complete with a TV for video games as well as a pool table, jet air hockey and foosball tables.

Work continues on the future fellowship hall inside the Beacon, with an expected end of summer completion. Dean said the church expects to hold its annual “thanks gathering” dinner inside this hall. Other future events to be held in the hall include pastor conferences and other large gatherings.

The hall will also be used as a recreational area, including a basketball court.

But First Baptist Church is not limiting its impressive soon-to-be-completed facility to its congregation.

“We’ll be looking for ways to open this facility up to the entire community,” Pastor Neill said.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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