The Rev. Brian Dunn took the helm of the renovated and expanded Lighthouse Church in November. He said he wants to inspire the congregation to grow in their faith and not get stagnant.
When Lighthouse Church holds a building dedication ceremony tomorrow, there will be more to the story than a few new rooms.
The ceremony will mark the start of a new chapter for the Alexis Road church after a few tough years following the sudden death of its longtime pastor, the Rev. Ken Crowe, in October, 2005.
Mr. Crowe, who had been pastor since April, 1984, died of a heart attack at age 62. The next day the church was to sign bank papers for a $1 million loan for the building project.
His unexpected death sent the church reeling, according to Donna Hall, business manager and longtime member.
"As a tribute to him, we're going to memorialize Pastor Crowe in the ceremony," Ms. Hall said. "We've been in a lot of awful transitions since the pastor passed away in 2005 so this ceremony is, in part, to rededicate ourselves to what God has placed us here for."
The building project eventually got under way, and much of the work was done by volunteers. The members' help not only saved Lighthouse several hundred thousand dollars in labor costs, but it also helped the congregation of 135 strengthen their relationships and focus on the future, Ms. Hall said.
The addition includes new classrooms, a youth area, a front office, and a large conference area.
After several interim pastors, Lighthouse elected the Rev. Brian Dunn as pastor in November.
Mr. Dunn, a native of Rockford, Ill., who most recently served as a youth pastor in Dayton, said he knows it was difficult for Lighthouse's members to lose Mr. Crowe.
"It kind of tugged on my pastoral heart to hear of a congregation that lost what I call a 'legacy pastor' who was there 20 years or so, to lose him so suddenly," Mr. Dunn said. "As I've gotten to know the people more, it's been really neat to meet people who have rallied around the flag and picked up the banner and carried it forward."
Tomorrow's celebration will be divided into three parts: the church's 87-year history, its recent past including Mr. Crowe's tenure, and a look toward the future.
The church, which is a member of the Assemblies of God denomination, was one of the first Pentecostal denominations in the Toledo area.
It began as the Dorr Street Mission in 1920 and was formally organized as Glad Tidings Tabernacle in 1923. It has moved several times and had various names, including Full Gospel Tabernacle, Upton Avenue Tabernacle, and First Assembly of God before being christened Lighthouse Church in 1995.
"The third part of the service is kind of a relaunch," said Ms. Hall, who has been at Lighthouse for about 30 years.
She said the congregation spent about 14 months searching for a permanent pastor before selecting Mr. Dunn.
"We hadn't looked for a new pastor in a long time," she said. "We were a little gun shy. We felt we should take our time and be sure about the candidate we were bringing in."
Mr. Dunn, 38, said he wants to inspire the congregation to grow in their faith and not get stagnant.
"Are we moving forward or are we doing the same things over and over and over again to protect our comfort?" he asked.
He said Lighthouse Church is in "an incredible position" to reach its neighbors with the Gospel, adding that there are two kinds of neighbors: friends, families, and acquaintances of church members, and people living in the church's geographic area.
"There's an incredible mix of people in this area," Mr. Dunn said.
"Some already have a church home and some have decided not to go to church. We're excited to be here and are looking for ways to minister to people."
A Building Dedication Ceremony will be held at Lighthouse Church, 2324 West Alexis Rd., at 3 p.m. tomorrow, with an open house and refreshments to follow.
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