BROOKSVILLE — What has been home to Brooksville Elks Lodge 2852 for 30 years will become a house of worship today as Great Life Church takes up residence on Cortez Boulevard.
The move from Sunshine Grove Road to the Suncoast Parkway, into a larger, more accessible building, is part of the vision the Revs. Steve Bilsborough and his wife, Ellen, have had for their 3-year-old church.
"We've looked at many buildings throughout Hernando County, thinking that some of them would be good," Bilsborough said, "but God led us to the right one at the right time."
With a growing congregation of more than 200 at a nondenominational church that hosts women's conferences and community events, Bilsborough said the former building was becoming too small.
"We couldn't do as much there," he said. "The new sanctuary will be about 7,500 square feet and will seat between 700 to 800 people."
"Our ladies ministry is growing," Mrs. Bilsborough said. "This new location will enable us to do so much more for the community and have more events. We haven't even begun to really impact the area like we'd like to, and we're excited about the opportunity to do so."
The church was able to secure financing for the 17,000-square-foot Elks building, which is unusual for such a young church, he said.
"A year before we even thought about this building, my wife and I were walking through a park in Orlando, and God literally spoke to my heart and said, 'One million dollars,' " Bilsborough said. "I didn't know what he meant and what it was about, but a year later now we see that's exactly what God said — it would be a million dollars needed, and a million dollars is what we bought it for."
The first service in the new building will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 7, but the dedication service won't be scheduled for another four or five months. Some remodeling will have taken place by then.
"You'll see new signage out by the road, and we are renovating what will be the sanctuary," Bilsborough said, noting that the building has not been updated for 32 years. "We'll be doing a lot of modernizing, and we'll be turning about 4,000 square feet into a state-of-the-art nursery for moms to bring their babies to during services and events.
"We have a full children's ministry auditorium, and we're going to be building a new stage with big screens and projectors and a lot of multimedia."
Bilsborough projects that the renovations will be completed in less than a year.
One advantage of the new site is having a parking lot that can accommodate more than 200 cars.
"We did a Fun Festival where we barbecued and fed over 700 people, and we'll be doing those in our big parking lot now," Bilsborough said. "We'll be doing outdoor concerts, tent crusades on our property.
"This is going to help us enhance the vision that's already in place."
The church will continue to offer its men's, women's, youth and children's ministries as well as a benevolence ministry and a seniors ministry.
What were monthly Wednesday evening services will now become a weekly Family Night.
"We are revivalists in our ministry, and we are here to literally impact or shape this entire region with hope and help through the power of God," Bilsborough said about the ministry, which he defines as spirit-filled. "We're reaching single moms and dads and offer marital counseling, because there are so many divorces and broken homes. We're reaching them with a life-changing experience."