Cape Christian Fellowship in Cape Coral, Fla., responds to the city's needs by canceling plans to build $15 million dollar worship center.
CAPE CORAL, Fla.—Cape Coral’s ranking as one of the top cities in the nation for foreclosure and unemployment rates has prompted a Florida church to shift its focus—from constructing a $15 million dollar worship auditorium to building a 100,000-square-foot park for its city.
After assessing how loss of jobs and homes was impacting families, Cape Christian Fellowship is launching a nontraditional church campaign to build Fellowship Park. Open to the public, Fellowship Park will include the city’s first amphitheater, a splash pad, four children’s playgrounds, sports and multipurpose fields, common areas, a zip line, a jogging trail, a pavilion and a café. It will be funded, built and maintained by the church. In addition, Cape Christian Fellowship is launching a communitywide campaign, “Not in My City,” providing comprehensive resources to families facing hunger, homelessness and poverty.
“We were alarmed to learn that 350 children are homeless in our city,” says Cape Christian Fellowship Lead Pastor Wes Furlong. “Assessing the community’s needs was sobering and led us to turn our attention outside the walls of our church. Even though we’ve outgrown our current facility, we have canceled our plans for a new worship center. Instead, we are building a park where families can gather, play or attend concerts and community events. We’re also providing resources to help families who’ve lost homes or jobs. We are a church that exists for our city.”
The largest Mennonite Church in the U.S., Cape Christian Fellowship has doubled its attendance over the past five years and created more than 20 ministries for the city, including a mentoring program for young mothers and a state-approved character curriculum in public schools. It’s “Feeding Cape Coral” program stocks food pantries with more than 25,000 items. In addition, the church is recruiting volunteers with the goal of logging 1 million volunteer hours within public schools. Cape Christian Fellowship also plans to launch the Center for Family Life to create multimedia resources for parents, married couples, and people with addictions and other life-controlling issues. The 25-year-old church is home to more than 1,400 people who attend its contemporary worship services each weekend.