BROOKSVILLE — After 23 months of construction, Brooksville Wesleyan Church opened the doors of its new building with worship on Nov. 20. The facilities will be dedicated at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The church's pastor, the Rev. Marlin Mull, believes the $4.5 million structure is something special.
"I preached in over 600 Wesleyan churches when I was a denominational executive," Mull said. "We may have other churches that are as big or bigger than this one, but there is no church any more beautiful than this church."
The 29,000-square-foot building, which sits on 15 acres on Cortez Boulevard on the east edge of Brooksville, houses a chapel, classrooms, offices, a nursery, a choir room, a large foyer and a sanctuary that seats 1,000, with additional area for overflow seating. The outside has covered walkways.
The new sanctuary allows for more people and more flexibility, Mull said, and the comfortable individual seats are a change from the pew seating in the building the church occupied on Jasmine Drive.
"The difference between this and the old building is that you can see and hear much better," he said. "And you can adjust the seating to the size of the congregation, which changes from the winter to the summer season."
The chapel, which will be used for weddings, funerals and a Sunday school class, is awe inspiring, he said.
"If you walk into the chapel, you almost start crying," Mull said. "It seats about 120, and the woodwork is absolutely beautiful.
"The Christmas service was wonderful. It was so different," he said, explaining that the new sanctuary has three platform levels: the speaking level, the orchestra level and the choir level.
"We had room to have a drama," he said.
With a choir of 60 to 75 members and an orchestra of 20 musicians that plays on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, the Rev. Raymond Phaup, minister of music, appreciates the two additional platforms.
"The larger platforms will certainly be an asset as we present programs and concerts for the church and community," Phaup said. "We had been extremely limited by space, but now we can do more drama and other types of programs. And certainly the new sound system with better acoustics and better lighting will add to all the presentations."
There also will be more space for those who attend the programs.
"If the sanctuary is filled to capacity, we have large monitors on the walls of several areas in the building for overflow crowds," Phaup said.
Mull said the church was one of the larger building projects in Hernando County in recent years, and he appreciates how smoothly the process went.
"The county officials have been very cooperative, and we appreciate it," he said. He said he also enjoyed working with the contractor/architect, Jamie Senatore.
Sunday's dedication day will begin with Sunday school at 9:30 a.m. and the regular morning service at 10:30 a.m. At 2 p.m., the church will be open for those who would like to see inside. The dedication service begins at 3 p.m. with the Rev. George Harris as guest speaker.
"Dr. Harris was the pastor before me who actually initiated the building program and deserves a lot of the credit," Mull said.
Other speakers during the service will include Mull; the Rev. Jerry Pence, general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church; the Rev. Patrick Styers, district superintendent of the Florida District of the Wesleyan Church; and other ministers from the denomination.
Special music will be provided by Dan Boyer along with Phaup and his wife, Mary Ann.
There will be an open house with refreshments after the service that will last until 6 p.m.
"It will be a great time for people in the community to come by and see the church," Mull said.
Church services will continue with a traditional style of worship.
Mull said the church has set aside $100,000 to help start five new Wesleyan ministries in Hernando and Hillsborough counties and noted that some of those might have more contemporary worship.
"We have a very giving congregation," Mull said of the membership which is drawn from throughout the Brooksville area. "It is the second largest in giving to missions in the United States of the Wesleyan denomination."
The church has another distinction related to its giving. Members have already raised about $3.5 million for the new building.
"Most churches raise 20 percent and borrow 80 percent," Mull said. "We raised 80 percent of the equity and borrowed 20 percent."
Mull, who has served the congregation since July 2006, will retire this summer. The church is currently conducting a pastoral search.
"I will turn 80 in May," Mull said, "and I am glad to have been a part of such an exciting project at the close of my active ministry."