After years of planning and months of execution, renovations on the auditorium at Madison Street Baptist Church are nearing completion.

The current auditorium was completed in 1957 and underwent the last renovation in the early 1990s. Pastor CW Kennedy is looking forward to preaching the gospel in a fresh space.

“This renovation is bringing excitement back to our church members,” he said.

The community is invited to see the completed update Sunday, June 3. The service will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a potluck “dinner on the ground.” Sunday evening services will begin right after lunch at about 1:15 p.m.

Kennedy is still a relative newcomer to the church, having been the pastor the last year and a half. He was hired following the departure of pastor Mike Westmoreland, who is now a pastor in South Carolina. Westmoreland, who put the renovation plans in place, will be returning for the June 3 dedication ceremony.

When the church's leadership was looking for a new pastor, Kennedy was asked if he would be willing to lead the church through the project. As a relatively young pastor at age 38, Kennedy said he had always thought it would be fun to take on a large-scale church renovation.

“The church members built this church themselves 63 to 64 years ago, before codes were implemented in Athens, so that's been a joy to go through,” he said with a chuckle. “There are a lot of details and questions.”

Some features of the church were incredibly sturdy, however, including the baptistry. Kennedy said it was made of concrete and steel.

“They had to jackhammer the inside out of it and cut it with blowtorches,” he said.

While construction progressed in the auditorium, church services were moved to the much smaller fellowship hall. Kennedy said the change affected attendance slightly, because his flock of 80 members were in more cramped quarters.

“There was a day when people didn't mind being packed in together, but that's not the case now,” he said. “Americans like to be comfortable, and we're used to some degree of luxury.”

As the dedication ceremony approaches, Kennedy said work nears completion. Painting is done, and lighting was almost finished Tuesday. New carpet was set to be laid Monday.

Even though the work is almost at an end, Kennedy said the church would welcome donations. Checks should be made out to Madison Street Baptist Church and notate the donation is for the building project.

About the pastor

CW Kennedy, an Indiana native, previously pastored in Orlando, Florida, for 3 1/2 years. He and his wife Angela have two daughters, Joy and Makenzie. He also served as a pastor in the Athens, Georgia, area.

“We liked Florida, but I really enjoy Alabama,” he said.

For more information about Kennedy, visit his website,