Saturday, May 8, 2004

Churches celebrate new homes

Faith Matters

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP - "Praising the Lord! Raising the Roof" is the theme for one local church's month of celebrations for the dedication of its new sanctuary.

And it seems the season for all stages of work on new worship space is just beginning.

"It's really about meeting the needs of the congregation," said Pastor Henry Zorn of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Anderson Township. "Today people use the church as their meeting space, and you really need a lot of space for people to meet, socialize and talk."

In addition to the Church of the Resurrection, which will celebrate the dedication of its 8,000-square-foot, $1.75 million new sanctuary on May 30, other churches will be celebrating their new homes this month. They include Evangelical Community Church in New Burlington with its first-ever home after splitting from the College Hill Presbyterian Church in 1996, and Abiding Word Lutheran Church in Landen, with its $500,000 addition of a sanctuary.

And this weekend, the Bonita Drive Church of Christ in Middletown, will break ground on its new 28,000-square-foot, $2.5 million facility - four times the size of its existing church - and become the Crosspointe Church of Christ.

"We've just completely outgrown this building," said Crosspointe's minister, Jim Kinser. "We've become more outreach conscious. We're trying to meet the needs of families and reach out to the unchurched. We're better equipped to do that in our new building."

For Crosspointe, Resurrection and Abiding Word, meeting the needs of the community and the congregation means classrooms, meeting rooms, fellowship halls, children's nurseries and larger narthexes. But growth also plays a role.

"Our attendance has gone up, even during construction. We're setting records for attendance. People like the smallness, the family nature," said Abiding Word Pastor Michael Otterstatter of the 100-member congregation. "Some people are just intimidated by these mega churches."

Zorn said that as his congregation has grown to about 400 active members, up about 5 percent in each of the last seven years. The church has concentrated on balancing reaching people in need of a church with a congregation that's warm and inviting.

"We feel there are still a lot of people who can be touched by the Gospel's good news, and our new space makes it possible to do the ministries we're called to do," said Zorn, who is excited the new church building will be able to accommodate a fourth weekend service to offer contemporary worship. "We feel that's an unmet need here - a mainline church offering a praise worship service. That's a niche of people we feel we can reach."

Dedication celebrations for Resurrection, 1950 Nagel Road, include a community-wide baccalaureate service for area high school students at 1:30 p.m. on May 29, a cornerstone laying ceremony and dedication at 10:15 a.m. on May 30. For more information, call the church at 474-4938.

At Evangelical Community Church, 2191 Struble Road, the community is invited to Visitor's Sunday at 10:30 a.m. May 16. For more information, call 542-9025.

And at Abiding Word, 8470 Landen Drive, the community is invited to an open house on May 15 beginning at 11 a.m. There will also be concerts by Christian artist Susan Ann at 2 and 7 p.m. The dedication is at 9:30 a.m. May 16. For more information, call 677-9357.

Today at 10 a.m., the groundbreaking for Crosspointe will be at 5630 Ohio 122.

UNITY CONCERT: The Tri-County Assembly of God, 7350 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, will host a Unity of Praise Concert at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 15.

The concert, geared at bringing people of diverse racial and religious backgrounds and ages, will feature Smokie Norful, a Stellar-Award winning contemporary Gospel singer; Eternal Faith, a contemporary Christian duo from Faith United Methodist Church; Vessels of Praise, a contemporary Gospel youth choir; Ed Thomas, a Gospel jazz saxophonist; Norman Hutchins, a traditional Gospel singer; and Eternal Faith, a contemporary Christian group.

Tickets: $35 in advance, $40 the day of the event. Call 851-4026.

E-mail or send a fax to 755-4150.

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