Not long ago, it wasn’t clear that Brownwood’s Worship Center church would be able to survive as a congregation. But pastor Martin Venegas stepped in last year and began implementing his vision for serving the Brownwood community and the neighborhoods surrounding the 2251 Willowbend Rd. church.   

This week the church announced it will be working with the Brownwood Jaycees to build a playground on church property, replacing the one aging swing set now on offer. The Jaycees secured a $12,000 grant from the state organization and will begin the project in the coming months.   

“I’ve been here for about five months now,” Venegas said on Wednesday. “God just gave us a heart for this community. If you look around, there’s a lot of empty lots and not a lot of people. God laid it on my heart to start reaching out to that community, and that’s kind of our motto — just to reach out and make a difference.”   

Venegas even started giving out doughnuts to neighbors as a way to spark conversation. “We just want to be a blessing right here where we’re at.”   

Last Sunday Venegas announced the playground to his congregation. “They just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “They got so excited.”   

Brownwood Jaycees president Patrick McLaughlin said the playground project is part of the Jaycees’ mission of community service. “Martin had a vision to build a playground, Erika caught on to that vision and she wrote a grant for it.”   

Erika Stumpfrock is leading up the project as a Jaycees member and a congregant at the Worship Center. She said Venegas has revitalized the church and helped it grow now to 50 members in just a few months.   

McLaughlin said the Jaycees will help out with construction “wherever [they] can.”   

“Obviously, we’re not all specialists in how to build things, and we’ll bring in people who know how to build those things. But at the end of the day, this is a project for Martin’s church and we really appreciate the work that he does.”   

Venegas said the playground is a gift for the whole community. “I really believe that our neighborhood, when they see it going up, they’re going to come and use it. And that’s our goal. We want them to enjoy it too.”