In an empty field on Packinghouse Road, nearly 100 believers gathered on a hot July evening for the groundbreaking ceremony of United Fellowship Worship Center.
With a host of “hallelujahs,” “glory,” and “thank you, Jesus,” members who have met for 4½ years in the chapel of Hill’s Mortuary recognized the ground on which they stood as “holy ground” and dedicated the property to God.
Two tents, decorated with helium-filled purple and gold balloons, kept participants slightly shaded, but the summer heat continued to burst some of the balloons throughout the service. At one point during the event, a participant spoke out, “That’s OK. Pop on. Celebrate.”
Minister Christine Stripling opened with a greeting and said she was excited to witness what God is doing in this community, state, nation and world and encouraged the congregation to be kingdom builders and nation shakers.
Minister Maurice Hill, the owner of Hill’s Mortuary, prayed: “Thank you for this glorious day. Bless this community. Put a burning in their hearts that they might run in here.”
Pastor Brock Taylor and his wife, First Lady DaShaundra Taylor, were introduced as the visionaries for the ministry.
“God placed it in our spirits to build,” Pastor Taylor said, adding that the congregation had faced roadblocks and naysayers. “But something’s wrong when the saints get comfortable.”
“We already got the church,” he said, referring to the congregation. “This is just to house the people.”
At least one onlooker, possibly more, caught a glimpse of a single dove, flying low overhead. She said the dove circled the tent once, tipped its wing and then flew away, reminding the onlooker of the passage in Matthew 3:16 in which the Spirit of God descends like a dove.
Ministerial staff and representatives from other local churches also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
Elder Donald Chavers Jr. of Agape Worship Center, prayed: “We dedicate this ground to you, Lord. We give it back to you for your use and glory. May it extend as far as the eye can see, as the community grows around it.”
After the prayer, Chavers smiled, removed a shoe and said, “Someone ought to be ready to step out of their shoes, because this is holy ground.”
Pastor Taylor and his wife were joined at the front by the executive board and, together, they shoveled the first bits of soil to break the ground for the new facility.
Excessive heat, gnats, hard ground and loud popping balloons didn’t deter the group, and shouts of praise erupted at the overturned earth.
Taylor wiped his brow and said: “Just as the balloons expanded and burst around us, we are reminded that Jesus said, ‘Don’t put new wine in old wineskins,’” paraphrasing from Mark 2:22, which reads, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost.”
Taylor concluded with these words: “We’ve been made new. We are expanding in Christ.”