Indoors or outdoors, 1st hymn is Sunday

Published May 5, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Even if it is outdoors, Brooksville Christian Church will have its first service at its new facility on Sunday.

"We may not have our Certificate of Occupancy until after May 6," said Mike Harshman, senior minister. "If we do not have it, we will still be meeting on the property, but we'll be having a tent service that day instead. We are very excited about our new home and look forward to being a light in our community."

Despite not being in the new building by the time he had hoped, Harshman is happy that the time to use the new 12, 000-square-foot facility is near.

"It's a mixed feeling of excitement, relief and anticipation," he said. With the church outgrowing its current building on County Line Road, in 2002 the congregation purchased the land on Broad Street.

"With less than 100 attending worship each Sunday, it was a giant step of faith," Harshman said. "We desire to be a part of the Brooksville community once again and are excited about the growth that is taking place in the area."

The new facility has two buildings under a common roof. The worship room, offices, nursery and toddler rooms are in one building. The rear building houses a fellowship hall with a full kitchen, youth classrooms and a resource center. If sufficient future growth occurs to exceed the 350-seat worship room, there are long-term plans to build a new worship facility and a family life center with a gymnasium and classrooms.

"The Lord has blessed us with 10 acres of land and we want to use it for him," Harshman said.

According to a church history compiled by Earl Hagar, the church's minister for 30 years and now the senior adult minister, the church traces its beginnings to the fall of 1966 when 18 people met in a member's home.

"Although the name First Christian Church was preferred," Hagar wrote, "it could not be used for legal reasons, so the new church was called Brooksville Christian Church."

Later, the members rented the American Legion Hall until a church building was completed in 1968 on Barnett Road. In 1972, Hagar became the pastor.

With the changing of the century came a change of location for the church as it united with Cornerstone Christian Church and moved into that church's building on County Line Road.

"We had by this time purchased 10 acres of prime land just off of U.S. 41 just south of Brooksville," Hagar wrote. "U.S. 41 is a six-lane highway with several housing developments surrounding our property. The Cornerstone property was sold but arrangements were made for us to stay while our facilities were being built."

In 2002, Hagar semi-retired and Tony Crane became the senior minister. Harshman, 34, became the pastor of the church in October 2004.

Since he has come, Harshman has seen a number of people become a part of the congregation.

"We are continually reinforcing the idea of relating to people one person, one family at a time," he gave as the reason for the church's growth in membership.

"You can tell within the first few minutes of walking into a church service what kind of place it is by how the people relate to one another. I think we're becoming a church that really does care about one another in an authentic way. In the long haul, I'd rather be known as a church that talked about changed lives rather than a church that boasts of its programs and calendar events.

"People are searching for something real today," he said. "The Bible says that people should recognize us by our love."

Ann Mau, a retiree, has been a member of the church most of her life.

"I know everybody feels very close to their church and their minister but I will tell you something from the bottom of my heart, he is the most wonderful minister I've ever heard in all my years," she said about Harshman.

Harshman shies away from talking about himself.

"We are wanting to promote Jesus Christ and his love," the pastor said. "I am a small part of what we are hoping to accomplish for God's kingdom here in this area.

"We've had numerous prayer times at the property, some picnics and fellowship events. We've been looking forward to this day for a long time. I cannot wait to stand before the congregation and say, 'Welcome home.'"

If you go

Service at 10:30

The first worship service of the Brooksville Christian Church at its new location, 6197 Broad St., is at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Sunday school begins at 9:15 a.m. Other services will include an adult Bible study and youth meetings at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Call 796-3221.