Click on the image above to advance the photo gallery and see more pictures. All photographs by Roy Price.
BY TIM KOLODZIEJ
For Pathway Church
From a distance, it looked as if a fair had broken out.
OK, at least a pretty massive block party.
Either way, the crowd was growing by the minute. More than a half-hour before the scheduled start time, dozens of families had already assembled in the parking lot of Pathway Church. Though Thanksgiving is less than a month away, children wearing T-shirts and shorts munched on hot dogs as they lounged at outdoor tables. Nearby, a warm and gentle breeze kept colorful bundles of balloons dancing in all directions.
Sure, the snacks were satisfying and the weather was wonderful, but make no mistake — the kids came to play.
And they didn’t stop until it was time to go home.
After years of praying and planning, then several more months of construction, Pathway celebrated the grand opening of its multimillion-dollar children’s wing on Friday night. Hundreds of curious visitors turned out to tour and explore the 23,400-square-foot structure.
The first floor features an indoor playland, classrooms, a computerized check-in area and toddler-sized restrooms with tiny toilets and sinks. The second floor offers a multipurpose room with a huge video screen, additional classrooms, and an area dedicated to children with special needs.
Tracy Yowler is a member of the special needs team who helped design that space.
“I know there is a need for this in Beaver County,” she said. “I can't wait to see how God uses this ministry to serve children with special needs and their families."
The event began with remarks from Jeff McNicol, senior pastor at Pathway. He then directed the crowd’s attention to a pair of large-screen televisions, which featured a video describing the new building.
Following a moment of prayer, children’s ministry director Susie Best knelt in front of a huge red ribbon as youngsters from Pathway Kids lifted their scissors.
“In case you’re wondering, they’re child-safe scissors,” McNicol quipped.
“OK, are you ready?” Best asked them. “On your mark, get set, go!”
Snip, snip, hooray.
“The building is open!” McNicol shouted to raucous applause. “Enjoy it!”
As visitors walked the halls they couldn’t help but marvel at the vibrant walls — each covered with imaginative and colorful imagery.
“These are very exciting times at Pathway,” McNicol explained.
He smiled broadly, then turned toward the children climbing, swinging and sliding in the playland.
“We couldn’t be more excited.”
And neither could they.