LACENTER, KY — A western Kentucky church is turning a vacant school building into a community hub — with spaces for early learning, addiction and recovery counseling, youth programs, and recreation.

First Baptist Church in LaCenter has bought the Ballard County Preschool building at 455 Olive St., which has been unused for more than a year. On Monday, the church held a ceremony to celebrate the real estate closing.


Rev. Brian Steward said the plan is to turn much of the building into an early learning center for children 5 and younger. The church plans to use five classrooms to teach a Christian-based curriculum five days a week.

“You can see the classrooms are still really good size, still in good shape. Ballard County did a great job of keeping the building up,”  said Steward. “It helps us meet our mission, which is to share Jesus Christ with as many people as we can.”

The church also plans to turn one end of the building into a Christian counseling center — which would focus on family, child, and addiction and recovery counseling.

“Ballard County, like many counties, have a big issue with drug addictions,” Steward said. “I don’t think there’s any in the community, any family, that’s not affected by it — even families within our own church — so we know this is a need in the community.”

One room would be used for group counseling, and smaller offices would be used for individual counseling.

To separate the counseling center from the early learning center, a wall will be built in the hallway, said Steward. The counseling center has a separate entrance that is away from the main entrance of the school building.

The church plans to use the cafeteria of the school building for its youth program and the gym for its recreation ministry, which would feature church-league volleyball, basketball and more. Steward says those two areas should be up and running within a few weeks to a month.

As for the early learning center, Steward hopes to have it open by early next year, pending approval from the state. The church would then work on getting the counseling center ready.

“Our church family is excited about just the opportunity to see what the Lord can do with this building in this community,” said Steward. “This has always been a dream for First Baptist to be able to take this building over if the school was ever want to sell it, because the possibilities to reach the community with this building is endless.”

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