In August, Samuel Samaniego’s church, Iglesia Bautista Cristo es la Roca, finally got the go-ahead to continue construction on the church after being handed a “stop work order” from the county that halted construction for about five months.
“They made us stop our construction because we were working without an engineer,” said Samaniego, pastor of the 200-member church. “All we had was an architect and they said that wasn’t OK.”
Iglesia Bautista Cristo es la Roca
Where: 2344 Dawsonville Highway, Gainesville
Since they have been able to continue work, the church members, who have done all the construction themselves, have worked as much as they can to complete it as soon as possible. Some of them even took time off from their other jobs to help move the project along toward the beginning of construction.
Most of the men at the church work in construction, so it didn’t make sense to hire somebody else to do the work. And for those who weren’t skilled in construction, there were plenty of easier tasks for them to take care of.
“The members have done all the work voluntarily,” Samaniego said in an interview conducted in Spanish. “No one got paid to do anything. They all just went in to help build whenever they could.”
With all of the work that has been done, Iglesia Bautista Cristo es la Roca is set to be finished with construction next week and plans to hold its first services Feb. 18 as soon as inspectors can approve the work.
There used to be an old, dilapidated building on the property the church now sits on. Church members completely renovated that building, which now includes a sanctuary, another room for different events, two bathrooms and an office for the pastor.
A smaller building next to the church will be used for children, Samaniego said. That building has separate rooms throughout for different age groups and even a room for sick children so they can be cared for away from others.
Even with the construction delay, everything is coming together just as Samaniego had planned. He had been thinking about this project for years.
“By the time we got the land, I already had all the buildings and details planned out, so as soon as we got the go, we started the construction,” Samaniego said.
He said he is OK with the two buildings the church has now, but also has plans for expansion. The land the church sits on is 7 acres, so he plans on building a bigger building that could hold around 400 people and eventually become the main sanctuary. He also wants to build a soccer field for the children.
While the church enjoys its new building, it will continue to raise and save money so it can start those projects in about a year.
Samaniego hopes there won’t be any “stop work orders” issued for any of those future plans, but he said the delay this time allowed them to save more money to pay off some things for the building.
For the opening of the new church, Samaniego said pastors will come in from other states to help celebrate. He welcomes anyone to the church.
“Our goal has always been to help out families, teens, couples, kids and anyone in need of God’s grace,” Samaniego said. “So we are just trying to reach out to more people in need.”
Times intern Andrea Corona contributed to this story.