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Texas Baptists launch facility for mentally disabled adults

TYLER, Texas (BP)–About 300 Texas Baptist volunteer couples hope to build a half-dozen group homes and a “town hall” — all within a single month — at a new care facility for mentally disabled adults. And Texas Baptists’ executive board approved a $6.9 million bond package to finance the project.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas executive board has authorized trustees of Baptist Children’s Home Ministries to issue up to $6,983,000 in tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of the new Breckenridge Village of Tyler, Texas. The planned community is designed to offer long-term care for adults with mild to moderate mental disabilities.
Texas Baptist Men’s various fellowships for builders– retirees, camp builders, associational teams and others — will hold a month-long reunion in Tyler beginning Sept. 2. During their reunion, the TBM volunteers plan to complete the first segment of the three-phase building plan.
During the first phase, $4 million in bonds will be issued to develop the site, build six homes housing 48 residents and an administrative building, and provide for start-up costs, contingencies and reserves. The second and third phases will involve building an additional six homes, a chapel, gymnasium and vocational buildings. The latter phases will be financed through a combination of fund-raising and selling the remainder of approved bonds. Those final segments would require additional approval by the Texas Baptist Human Welfare Coordinating Board.
Each group home will include about 6,000 square feet of living space, providing eight private rooms for residents, a two-bedroom apartment for house parents and a guest room. The projected 12,000- square-foot town hall will house administrative offices, in addition to providing a general assembly room and smaller conference space.
“This is a God-sized task,” said TBM President George “Andy” Andreason of McGregor, describing the one-month building marathon. “All the glory will go to him.”
Texas Baptist involvement in creating a care facility for adults with mental disabilities grew out of concerns expressed by parents at the annual Special Friends Retreat, coordinated by Nelda Williams in the BGCT Sunday school/discipleship division. The retreat for mentally challenged adults and their parents is supported by Texas Baptist gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for State Missions.
The retreat’s camp pastor, James Aldridge of Northwestern Baptist Church, Midland, appealed to the Human Welfare Coordinating Board in 1992 on the parents’ behalf.
Aldridge, who has a daughter with mental disabilities, asked the board to consider creating a residential facility that could care for mentally challenged adults.
The board created a study committee that presented its findings to the BGCT executive board at its December 1993 meeting. Based on that report, the BGCT and Baptist Children’s Home Ministries commissioned a feasibility study to explore the possibilities of developing such a facility.
During that study period, Jean Breckenridge of Tyler contacted Baptist Children’s Home Ministries. Breckenridge, who has a mentally challenged son, offered to donate 70 acres in Smith County if the agency would develop a care facility for mentally disabled adults.
The planned community, west of Tyler near the municipal airport, already has a waiting list of more than 150 prospective residents from all over Texas and five other states, according to Kevin Dinnin, president and chief executive officer of Baptist Children’s Home Ministries.
Dinnin reported community leaders in Tyler have pledged about $1 million toward the project. He also stipulated policy-making authority for the facility will rest with the children home ministries’ board of trustees, elected by BGCT messengers.

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  • Ken Camp