Members of Second Baptist Church of Independence rejoiced in new features of one of the oldest black Baptist churches in Missouri. A  major remodeling has made the church more accessible to elderly and disabled members and enlarged its Sunday school space.

The walk down White Oak Street Sunday morning was a memorable one for members of Second Baptist Church.

After all, it’s not every Sunday that they get to step inside a newly remodeled church.

Members of Second Baptist Church of Independence rejoiced in new features of one of the oldest black Baptist churches in Missouri.

“They (members) really enjoy the fact that they are able to see this happen in their lifetime and in honor and memory of their parents who have gone on,” said Rev. Samuel W. Nero, pastor at Second Baptist Church at 116 E. White Oak St.

Nero said the remodeling included gutting the entire sanctuary and adding ramps, restrooms, and classrooms.

They enclosed a ramp area that connects the sanctuary to the church’s fellowship hall downstairs. Once outside, the ramp is now inside, protecting people from the weather.

“People can move from one area to another without any real challenge,” Nero said. “They don’t have to go outside at all in the weather.”

Three classrooms were built on the west side of the church. The rooms will be used for Sunday school classes.

Ramps leading to the sanctuary were installed, making it easier on seniors and handicapped parishioners.

Restrooms are now closer to the sanctuary. Before, they were downstairs near the fellowship hall.

The church is more accessible for handicapped worshippers.

Before, if a person in a wheelchair needed to get from the sanctuary to the fellowship hall, they had to go down two flights of stairs and down a ramp that was outside.

“For the most senior persons who were physically challenged, that was difficult,” Nero said.

Eventually, the fellowship hall downstairs from the sanctuary will be re-carpeted and repainted, Nero said.

Church services were held in the fellowship hall for about four months while the sanctuary was being remodeled.

“It’s been a huge upgrade,” Nero said. “We’re calling it an extreme makeover.”

Although the upgrades were not direly needed, it was something that the church “desired to do”in improving the facility.

The church is one of the oldest black Baptist churches in Missouri. It’s 148 years old as a congregation.

“I’ve been here for 31 years and some of the saints have gone on to glory,” said choirmember Patricia Thompson. “To take it from a plan on paper and now to see it happen, it’s very joyful to see it.”

The congregation has 200 members who come from all over the Kansas City area.

Church members held a 30-minute dedication service to usher in the inaugural worship service in the new sanctuary. The regular Sunday service followed.

“We now give this church scantuary to God to be used for the worship of God and the building of his kingdom,” Nero said at the dedication service.