SPRING HILL — Christ the King Full Gospel Worship Center is a new house of worship that had an unusual start.
"Our church was actually birthed in a barn — an ideal place to gather, knowing Jesus was born in a barn," said church member Suzanne Morgan.
The church began having services about three months ago in a member's barn off of County Line Road. After a few weeks, it moved to 5111 Commercial Way, the location of a former funeral home.
"One time it was a place of mourning and discouragement, and now it's a place of joy, happiness and healing," said Allen Sabo, the church's pastor. "It's alive!"
Sabo and his wife, Maria, moved to Florida in 2000. For the previous five years, Sabo had pastored a church with the same name in Queens, N.Y.
At age 57, Sabo was late getting into the ministry.
"After a few bad experiences with a few churches, God sent somebody to a service I was attending one time to preach. In the middle of the service, he just stopped his message and looked at me and asked me to come up front. He said, 'God is ordaining you tonight.' I got chill bumps."
Sabo had been preaching a bit here and there up to that point, but had never considered becoming a pastor.
"(The speaker) told the pastor, 'I know the rules and regulations on ordination. But man is not ordaining this man tonight, God is.' So they had an ordination right there."
With that launch toward the ministry, Sabo attended Bible college at the Brooklyn campus of Vision Bible College of California and got a degree in biblical theology.
"God was calling me to start a church of my own," Sabo said. "So I finally did. I met another good pastor friend who was in real estate. He gave me a building, and that's how Christ the King got started."
After five years, Sabo said he felt led to come to Florida.
"I passed that church to another friend who was an ordained minister," he said. "It just seemed the doors were opening up for me to leave and him to come."
Sabo, who also runs a crew for a company that deals with sinkholes, said he was in various ministries in different churches when he felt it was time to begin another church.
The second Christ the King church was born.
"We have no denominational affiliation," Sabo said. "I just believe that God has put a bunch of friendly people together who care for one another. When you walk in, you are greeted by people with a smile that's true."
Morgan and her husband, Frank, are two of the more than 60 people who attend. They are both seniors.
"We felt this was where God wanted us to be," Morgan said. "I am in what is called the Ministry of Helps, along with many other people. We want to serve God and others."
Morgan also writes the church bulletins and the church directory. Her husband plays the guitar for the worship team.
"A church is made up of many parts — ushers, musicians, greeters, secretaries, bookkeepers, sound people, children's teachers, nursery workers, food ministries, Bible teachers, custodians, office help and prayer warriors," she said. "No one is more important or less important than the other. New people are welcome and quickly become part of our family."
The church offers two upbeat praise and worship services, Bible study, children's church, a nursery, the Lighthouse food pantry, a women's Bible study and brunch, a prayer chain and refreshments after the services.
The music program is led by gospel recording artist Crystal Whitehouse.
There are plans for a men's Bible study that will begin in June and a children's crusade and vacation Bible school.
Plans are being formed for various community outreach programs, including a program called "Box of Love Give Out," which will supply 100 turkey dinners for those in need at Thanksgiving.
"The Lord has been moving mightily," Sabo said. "We've seen people being provided for with food and homes, people healed, just one thing after another. We've seen God's hand at work, and it just simply means to me that we're doing something right."