Building inspirations: Steel and architecture minister to a higher calling

Who thought inspiration could come in the form of a steel building? Kenneth Joyner did. When the CEO of J&J Contractors was hired to finish a long-range growth plan for MB-ceconorthparkchurch2NorthPark Church in Meridian, Miss., he turned to Ceco Building Systems. The end product was a stunning worship facility that not only serves the congregation but has already struck a chord with visitors.

J&J Contractors was started in 1959 and specializes in residential, commercial and industrial construction, as well as design-build projects. Located in nearby Collinsville, Miss., J&J constructed the church’s original facility. For this latest project, designed to accommodate the church’s growing congregation and multiple ministries, Joyner brought in Ceco because “metal was the most economical choice for this type structure.”

Founded in 1956, the non-denominational Christian evangelical church has over 400 members. This second 19,000 square foot addition is the completion of a 15-year plan which included the relocation of the church in 1999 to the northeast part of the city. “We started in June 2010,” commented Joyner. “The congregation had their first service in the new sanctuary on April 22 of 2012.”

According to Ceco president Roger Burlingame, the 65-year-old company, which frequently works with church customers through its network of Ceco builders, finds each one unique. “Each is different, and Ceco is up to the challenge of helping design and erect churches from small chapels to the most complex and unique designs,” he said, adding: “It was a privilege to work with J&J Contractors and NorthPark Church.”


Using over 164 tons of steel, J&J Contractors, who designed the project and served as metal erector, constructed the 19,000 square-foot sanctuary and satellite buildings using Ceco’s architectural standing seam roof material. The roof color is Ceco Classic Green in a long-life paint.


The new facility consists of a sanctuary, eight classrooms, two nurseries, a cry room, four restrooms, a storage area, a chapel, and a choir practice room and music room. These new buildings were connected to the existing 22,000 square feet of buildings. During construction, the congregation held services in the multipurpose building.


Ceco District Sales Manager Roger Shivers explained the intricacy of the sanctuary, designed with fan-type seating. “This was a very complex project. It involved a high roof, a low roof and buildings extending off the sanctuary.” Shivers quipped: “There is not one square corner in the building.” The sanctuary roof height is 52 feet at the peak. One of the three large stained glass windows stands a lofty 30-feet high.

A unique and somewhat difficult-to-construct aspect of the project was the construction of three large crosses on top of the sanctuary. The difficulty was in the structural considerations because of the particular area where the crosses were located.

Another unique aspect of the new NorthPark Church is the main entrance, according to Shivers. “It’s not a traditional front entrance. It’s a drive-through, and it’s built recessed into the connector between the old and new entrances.”

Looking back, though, Shivers commented on the end result: “Even with the challenging construction, the buildings erected wonderfully. I credit Ceco’s engineering and detailing staff for their attention to detail and their relevant experience with worship building design.”

Just as J&J has worked closely with NorthPark Church for well over a decade through two major construction projects, J&J worked closely with Ceco to meet the needs of the customer.

Senior Pastor Earl Wheatley Jr. praised the project team. “J&J’s design is striking,” he commented, “and Ceco’s ability to provide the materials needed has been a ‘dream come true’ for our congregation. Our entire community is impressed with the new worship center addition to our facility. The sanctuary, new nurseries, additional classrooms, music ministry suite and chapel have come together beautifully to help us reach more people in our community.”

Rev. Wheatley said the church has in fact become a spiritual center for the community due to the work of J&J and Ceco. “The physical statement of our new structure reaches out to people all hours of the day and night,” he explained, offering the following example.  “We recently hosted a medical seminar,” he began. “One participant, from another part of the state, wrote us, thanking us for opening our facility for training.  He wrote: ‘The day turned out to be more than a learning event for me. I had the chance to enter the new part of your building, and it was a spiritual event for me. The beauty of your sanctuary and the solitude of the chapel ministered to me in a powerful way. If I lived closer I would be worshiping with you soon.’ Concluded Rev. Wheatley: “Ceco’s work with us has had more than material benefits – our new structure is ministering spiritually as well!”

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