The sign the handful of people hung at the end of a Cape St. Claire driveway last week was only hand-painted wood.
But to the 30 members of the Broadneck Baptist Church, it signified a new home.
The church formally took possession of the sanctuary that had been St. Andrew by the Bay Catholic Parish last Sunday after several years of renting the church part-time.
When the Catholic church expanded into a larger space at another location, the small Baptist congregation bought the property for $212,000.
"When I stop to think about it, it scares me," jests the Rev. Terry Minchow-Proffitt, the church pastor. "But we're trusting we'll grow, and God will honor our commitment."
Without their own building, it has been hard for the congregation to grow as it would like to, he says. "We've had a fugitivefeel. We're hoping the building will contribute to the community's awareness of us as a bona fide Christian community, and also enhance our ability to do ministry we couldn't do before, such as youth programs."
The congregation had been without a pastor for several years before Minchow-Proffitt arrived. The church has grown since then, with an average of 20 non-members attending each week, in addition to the 30 faithful.
"It's a vibrant, small, but creative and gifted community," says Minchow-Proffitt.
Their new church isn't glamorous, says the minister, but just having a place where they can settle in and not have to move in and out will be a welcome change, he says.
The church also hopes the building will be used by groups that need aplace to meet, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other support organizations.
"As a congregation, we've always met in homes part of thetime, and we'll continue to do things in homes occasionally, but ouryouth and children need a place they can identify with," says Minchow-Proffitt.
The Southern Baptist church has rented space from the Catholic church for about five years, and that experience has been meaningful, the minister says.
"You wouldn't expect such community from Baptists and Catholics, but being renters with them has been an experience of sharing grace, of real oneness. We'll miss that."
St.Andrew parish dedicated its new 23,000 square-foot parish center in November, on the grounds next to their church at College Parkway and Cape St. Claire Road.
The church, which numbers 1,407 families, welcomed the space for classrooms and administrative needs. The Broadneck Baptists remain in a chapel that seats perhaps 100. But that's "just the right size for us now," says Minchow-Proffitt.