THE VILLAGES, Fla.—Growth in a church’s congregation is a good thing, but for Tri County Baptist Church in Lady Lake, its huge growth over the past five years required building a new church to accommodate everyone. “But the new building was definitely a good thing, too,” said J. O. Purcell, pastor at the church.

“We started with six families (and) 11 people five years ago, and we have grown now to 165 families and 265 people,” said Purcell, a Village of Chatham resident. “We really needed just space for our assembly.”

Plans to build a new church were made, and at the end of 2007 just six months after breaking ground at the construction site on Rolling Acres Road, the congregation moved in.

More space in a new place

The new building features a large sanctuary, classrooms, a big kitchen, nursery, and room for about double the congregation’s size. Where the old facilities couldn’t contain musical instruments for singing, the new church houses a piano with plenty of room for a choir.

Chairman of the building committee, Al Carlson, from the Village of Bonny Brook, said the new church is comfortable and will provide further opportunities for community growth. We had need of larger facilities, and this gives that to us,” he said. “By having a larger facility, it allows us to do a better job ministering and doing things for the community.”

Carlson not only had a hand in coordinating the building project, but he also handcrafted the beautiful white oak communion table, pulpit, and cross in the sanctuary. A lot of it was done at The Villages Woodshop,” he said, adding the cross took about 40 hours to create, and the pulpit and communion table were both about 100 hours of labor. “We’ve got a lot of heart in this building.”

Enjoying the new building

For Purcell, having the last three Sunday services in so much space has been wonderful. “We finally got it build and are enjoying it,” he said. “I just like it all, just to be in it. We love the additional space and the beauty of the building facility.” The reaction of the congregation to the new church was very positive, he said.

Al’s wife, Donna Carlson, said she enjoyed watching the progression of the building project. “It’s so neat to go from mounds of dirt to a facility (like this),” she said. “What’s been so exciting is seeing all this being built, seeing it come into being. It’s just so peaceful sitting here.”

Recently the church had a celebration dinner in honor of the new building and the church’s fifth anniversary, at which more than 200 people attended. And with the new building, there was room for everyone.

“It was a great celebration, just amazing,” Al Carlson said.

The remaining land around the building will serve as room for future growth in the church, Purcell said, and anyone interested in joining the Tri County Baptist congregation in worship is welcome to attend. “It’s just a beautiful group of people, really, that God has assembled together,” he said of the congregation. “We would just invite them to come if they are interested in Bible-centered worship.”

Caroline Klapper is a reporter for The Villages Daily Sun, where this article was originally published. It is reproduced here by permission.