For 9 1/2 years, the Rev. Michael Hubers and the congregation of Fellowship Baptist Church split their worship services between a senior citizens center and a public school.
They moved so often, they had the pastor's 4 1/2 -foot-tall pulpit put on wheels. Back and forth they lugged hymn books, a sound system, offering and communion ware, Sunday school material and a small A-frame sign bearing the church's name.
But those days are behind the 125-member congregation. Now, it has a place to call its own: a brick-faced building among the trees at 1015 Sundown Road in Ferndale, right next to Mr. Hubers' home.
The simple 11,200-square-foot structure contains a sanctuary that will seat 300, an education wing and a fellowship wing, Mr. Hubers said.
The $580,000 cost was paid upfront by parishioners, so there is no mortgage. To help keep costs low, congregation members -- whose tithes and offerings made the construction possible -- did some of the work, such as painting and hanging doors.
"I'm thankful. I sit in this place and I walk around and to think that this place is paid for, it baffles my mind," said Mr. Hubers, 40, gesturing with a screwdriver.
The tall, lean Mr. Hubers tightened doorjambs and latches under the watchful eye of his daughter Kelly, 6. He and his wife, Donna, have another child, Michael Jr., 12.
"We have built this church for the glory of God and the good of the community," said Mr. Hubers, who grew up in Ferndale.
While the church was being built, church members said Mr. Hubers refused to take a pay raise.
"He'd say, 'I don't want no raise. I don't want no raise. I just want to get this church built,' " recalled Bernie Lowry, church treasurer for seven years and a member for 10.
This year, with the completion of the church in sight, church members insisted that Mr. Hubers accept a raise.
The church began in 1985 with 18 members meeting in the Brooklyn Park home of Mrs. Lowry's sister, Lois Makarovich, and her husband, Gary. When the congregation began to grow, members had to find other meeting places.
They began holding Sunday services in the auditorium at George Cromwell Elementary School and Sunday school in the classrooms. Sunday and Wednes
day evening services were held at the Ferndale-Linthicum Senior Center on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
In October 1987, church members found 5.72 acres in Ferndale. The property owner added 1.5 acres and sold the land to the church for $65,000. Church members donated about three-quarters of an acre for a home for Mr. Hubers and his family.
The congregation will serve refreshments and hold an open house from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. The next morning, at 10, the members will gather for the first service in their new spiritual home. At 3 p.m., the church will be dedicated and its cornerstone laid.
June and Herman "Hoppy" Hopkins, members of Fellowship Baptist for one year, said they are looking forward to worshiping in the same place each week.
"I'll be glad to get into one building," Mrs. Hopkins said.