Baptist Church looks to build new parish

Big Sioux Baptist Church is ready for a new home.

But first, city zoning would need to be changed to allow a church and parish house to be built on the property along Veterans Street.

The Rev. David Lillibridge said the church’s two mobile homes that are more than 40 years old and an auditorium that connects them need replacing because the run-down condition makes it difficult to grow the church.

The plan would be to build a modest three-bedroom home west of the existing buildings and an alley on the property. A garage would be used as a temporary auditorium for worship, holding about 35 people. He hopes to start next year and build with mostly volunteer labor and no debt.

“I would like for it all to happen next spring, summer and fall. Whether I’m on the same page on the timeframe as God’s timing will remain to be seen,” he said. “The building holdup is money for materials and money for specialty contractors. We do want to pay as we go. We do not want to have a mortgage.”

Once that project is completed, the church could get rid of the mobile homes and existing structure. Eventually, a new church could be built in that space if the money is available, he said. “I’m not going to limit the Lord on his timing at all,” he said.

Highway commercial zoning allows churches but doesn’t allow for parish houses.

Planning and zoning board members recommend changing the zoning wording to permit parish houses that are used as a primary residence for a clergy member and family. The issue will get a second reading, and the city council will have an opportunity to vote on it at the Nov. 20 meeting.

The change would apply to not only Big Sioux Baptist Church but any future church that would want to build in an area zoned highway commercial.

Lillibridge, 64, said housing for the church would be only for the pastor and immediate family and would not be used for others. It would be built with enough space for a family in the future and would be about 1,200 square feet.

“At this point, we need to get out of the structures that we’re in,” he said of the single-wide mobile home he and his wife, Pam, live in, and the rest of the church property, that is admittedly shoddy.

When the Lillibridges moved to Flandreau from South Carolina and started as missionaries at the church more than four years ago, 10 people were living on the property, which included a number of other trailer houses and storage sheds. Many of those have been torn down and the property has been cleaned up.

City council member Bart Sample said the Lillibridges should be commended for all they have done to clean up the property.

Big Sioux Baptist Church has about a dozen of people who worship weekly. Lillibridge hopes to see that grow if improvements are made.

“We praise the Lord for the folks that are coming because they’re actually looking past the facility,” he said. “That’s a big hurdle that must be addressed.”

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