SYNDAL Baptist Church’s new $8 million home seems a far cry from its humble beginnings.

Fifty-four years ago, 20 families started the church in a Syndal house.

Today, its new Life Centre at the corner of Blackburn and High Street roads looms large over the former church site and looks nothing like a traditional church building.

The centre will not just be a place for worship but a base for counselling, emergency relief, migrant support services, courses, preschool and school groups – and it includes a cafe.

Senior Pastor Bill Brown says the centre isn’t called a church, but a life centre because it’s a place where people will experience life.

“We believe that the church is people, not a building.

“We call it a life centre and that’s a reflection of how we serve the community.”

The former building, parts of which will be refurbished, had been outgrown by the church – which is visited by about 1600 people a week, Dr Brown said.

“We have seen a demand for our services rise in recent years and in some cases, like our children’s programs, we have been running at capacity for a long time with no room for new participants.”

Following 18 months of construction, the awesome building is nearing completion and has a “real wow factor”.

An open week to mark the centre’s official unveiling is set for October.

The church has raised half of the project’s cost to this point, much of it from tax-deductible donations. To donate, or for more information, phone 9803 9144.