Thomas Dempsey couldn’t contain his youthful enthusiasm for the planned 20,000-square-foot Crossroads Church Family Center during a groundbreaking ceremony held May 15.
“Yay,” 6-year-old Thomas shouted when his great-grandparents, Yolanda and Salvador Giron, told him the facility, which should be completed in about a year, will include a children’s play area.
Thomas and his great-grandparents were among about 100 church members who gathered at the construction site of the new center to pray, sign a ceremonial shovel and plant a first spade of dirt.
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Thomas liked to play in parts of the 10-acre church property. The center will be located adjacent to the church’s current facilities in three portable buildings at 8070 SW 60th Ave., Ocala.
“Thomas is so happy with the new church. He loves the Lord so much,” said Yolanda Giron. Thomas said he would like to be a minister.
Large, anonymous donation fueled Crossroads Church’s growth plan
The Crossroads Church congregation’s 12-year goal to build a facility to increase the church’s reach and community impact was recently bolstered by a multi-million dollar donation from an anonymous church member.
The family center will contain a sanctuary with more than 500 seats, church offices, a children’s church, a scholarship room, a gym, a youth center for dances and other activities and a basketball court complete, according to building committee chairman Fred Schnuerle.
Pastor Paul Kilcrease, at the church for nine months, said the new facility will “open up the church to the community,” including several large residential communities that have developed along Southwest 60th Avenue over the past of recent years.
Kilcrease said the Family Center has been a long-standing vision for the congregation.
Crossroads Church, founded in 1999
Crossroads Church was established in 1999 and was formerly known as Lighthouse Church, Kilcrease said.
The congregation raised an unspecified amount in a building fund, and an anonymous benefactor donated $1 million for the first phase of construction. Another donation of 1.5 million dollars is committed for the completion of the project.
Future plans include a Christian school on the church grounds.
Crossroads Church executive pastor Ben Campbell, 26, of Ocala, and his wife, Anne, have been members for about six years. They have two children, Zola, 3, and Misha, 9 months.
“Everyone is excited,” he said.
Campbell said the congregation at Crossroads Church, which numbers about 180 people, is “multicultural” and has been “very warm and welcoming to us”.
Pick up a shovel
Brian Caracciolo and Seth McBride, representing BWC Construction, project contractor for the Family Center, joined in the groundbreaking ceremony at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Terrence Thompson, 54, moved here from Miami in 2004 and has been a member of Crossroads Church for about 15 years. His wife, four children and two grandchildren are also members.
He pointed to T-shirts, worn by many members of the congregation at the ceremony, which read, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”
“My children grew up (in this church). God is good,” he said.
Larry Scott, of Crossroads Church Food Ministry, said the new facility, once seen as an impossible goal, was “made possible by God” to help make a difference in the local community.
He said the church has a drive-thru food pantry on Tuesdays and distributes enough food to feed up to 400 people and ministry can be increased in the new building.
Scott said the facility will have room for youth activities and additional space to allow for greater sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ and gospel teachings such as “love thy neighbor” and serving the others.
Lori Principe; his son Alec, 7; and his 2-year-old grandson Kamren attended the groundbreaking.
Principe called the ceremony brilliant. She was invited by her friend Nicole Hurst, a member of Crossroads Church for six months, who was at the ceremony with her son, Jayden, 6.
Dreama Palmer, a member of the church for 17 years, is part of the Food Ministry and delivers food to widows.
“We are blessed,” she said of the incoming establishment.