Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For the Roof over Our Heads, Lord, We Give Thee Thanks; New Long-Awaited Buildings for 3 First Coast Congregations Will Help Expand Ministries

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For the Roof over Our Heads, Lord, We Give Thee Thanks; New Long-Awaited Buildings for 3 First Coast Congregations Will Help Expand Ministries

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

You'd think that a decade or so spent worshiping in other people's spaces would be a negative experience for a church family.

But not for the folks at First Coast Metropolitan Community Church in St. Augustine.

Rather than trying their nerves, the pastor and some members say holding services in a hotel, a massage school, theater and more recently in a synagogue has made them especially grateful on this Thanksgiving Day for the new building they'll move into next month.

"We're so thankful for what's been given to us that we want to make sure we can give back," Pastor Ruth Jensen-Forbell said.

The irony, she added, is that the repeated construction and financing delays have worked in the congregation's benefit. Being forced to wait until this year to start building a log cabin church just east of St. Augustine gave them time to pay off the 22-acre parcel and pay the $60,000 required to extend water service to the rural property.

Construction costs are lower and labor and material are more readily available than they were even just a couple years ago, she said.

"All of a sudden it was like God said, 'OK, now,' " Jensen-Forbell said. "We found the perfect contractor, we got the financing we needed ... and all of a sudden things are just falling together."

MORE THAN A BUILDING

The Rev. Scott Yirka understands that feeling.

His church, Hibernia Baptist Church in Fleming Island, left an elementary school four years ago for its own building. Its 21-acre property now contains eight buildings, including a 43,000-square-foot, $4.1 million multi-purpose worship center completed this fall.

"Moving into this new worship center really was beyond words because we could not envision that all this came as soon as it has," said Yirka.

The campus is gratitude-inducing. Yirka said he learned that after a recent mission trip to Haiti.

"When I came back from seeing all the need there, seeing people who have no building to worship in, no house to live in, it makes you not only real grateful but real cognizant of the real need around us."

That's why Hibernia Baptist sees its facilities as a means to an end, he said.

"When we were at the school people asked, 'When are you going to get a church?' " Yirka said. "Just because we have a building doesn't make us a church, but it certainly gives us a presence and an opportunity to share the gospel."

FULFILLS SACRED 'ASSIGNMENT'

Pastor Dan Jones sees his Jacksonville congregation's building, which opened in January 2009, as a tool for carrying out an "assignment from God."

That assignment, he said, is reaching out to criminals, crime victims, prostitutes, drug addicts, and people who are homeless, poor or mentally ill in his Northside neighborhood.

Jones and his flock at Christ Ministry of Changing Lives are especially grateful for the 4,400-square-foot structure because their previous building burned down in an arson fire in 2007. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.