Sixteen years after breaking ground on a new church, the congregation of First Baptist Church of Cutchogue is still working to complete the structure.
Parishioners raised nearly $2,000 for continued interior construction during a benefit concert last month at Mattituck Presbyterian Church, which has partnered with First Baptist on fundraising over the years by providing volunteers and space for special events.
“We’re now in the process of trying to complete the inside,” Pastor Cornelius Fulford said. “We want the public to know we’re still working on the building and we need the public’s help.”
The pastor said another $800,000 to $900,000 will be needed to complete the interior.
He said the plumbing has been completed and the next steps are to lay a cement floor and install electric wiring throughout the building.
The new 9,600-square-foot building sits on four acres on County Road 48 in Cutchogue, about one mile down the road from the original, 90-year-old church.
In April 2001, when construction on the new church began, the congregation was so large a new space was needed, Pastor Fulford said. Since then, numbers have dwindled to just under 70 active parishioners, but the need for a larger space remains.
There is barely room to worship and teach Sunday school in the current building, he said. Sunday school is held in the basement, which sometimes floods during heavy rain. In addition, the pastor shares his basement study with the treasurer, deacons, file cabinets and a copier near the bathrooms, which are often difficult for the elderly to access.
During funerals in the church, benches need to be moved to allow a casket to fit down the narrow aisle, he said.
“The congregation was too large when we started,” Pastor Fulford said. “Now we need the building to supply God’s need, like feed the hungry, clothe the naked. You need a place that you can counsel, for alcohol and rehabilitation. You need a place for that. You need a place to educate our children, spiritually, mentally and physically. You need all of this, and we don’t have it.”
Pastor Fulford said a committee is being formed, comprising both First Baptist and Mattituck Presbyterian church members, to generate ideas about future fundraising events and programs to support ongoing construction. The next event will be a chinese auction at the end of this month.
The church started the building project with about $350,000, which allowed them to complete the steel structure, exterior walls, siding and roofing. But that money ran out about five years ago, halting progress.
After the cement flooring and electrical work are completed, the building will still need insulation, sheetrock, ceilings, HVAC, painting, a steeple, exterior lighting, a parking lot and landscaping.
The church is a 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are tax-deductible, Pastor Fulford said.
“We’re not exactly sure when it’ll be done,” he said. “I’m hoping it’ll be soon and we can get in there soon. It’s been a long time. We’re still trying to get into this new building, but we need the public’s help.”
Top photo caption: Pastor Cornelius Fulford outside the future home of the First Baptist Church of Cutchogue. (Credit: Nicole Smith)