The Indian Lake Community Church (ILCC) has a history in Russells Point dating back to 1927. What began as the Union Sunday School that year in a cottage on Burkhart Avenue has evolved into the current church located at 120 Orchard Island Road North. Over the decades the church has seen much growth in attendance and facilities, which the congregation says is partially a result of the outreach they do for the community.
Pastor Jim Ellington said, “The function of the church is not limited to worship and certainly not confined to buildings. We are individually called to be the church, not just to attend a church.” This mission was cited as the reason for constructing the Fellowship Hall in 1977 and making it available for community use. The same mission led them to open the ILCC Day Care in 19XX as well. Associate Pastor and Day Care Director Karen Blackburn said, “The Day Care has never been intended to make money; we focused on providing low cost quality day care that allows working families to make ends meet”. Blackburn said that the church family and community have generously supported this mission even funding some scholarships for families in need of day care but without the means to pay for it. The church also offers a free monthly community meal and offers assistance to Indian Lake residents struggling to pay for basic necessities like rent, utilities, prescriptions and basic products like soaps, detergents and paper goods.
The church’s latest outreach mission began to take shape after then-Senior Pastor and now Pastor Emeritus John Ellington observed, “Indian Lake needs Jesus Christ.” This simple directive resulted in the establishment of the Lighthouse contemporary service on Easter Sunday 2015. Since that time the Lighthouse family has steadily grown and provided new challenges for the church. Executive Pastor Dave Hafenbrack said, “The Lighthouse service works well in the Fellowship Hall but what we didn’t have is a sanctuary feel to the building or places to house programming for our growing youth ministry. We were also lacking the administrative space for the operation of the church”.
Plans start to be made
Hafenbrack said the ministry team enlisted the help of ILCC member and retired architect Mark McGatha to start looking at plans to do renovations or additions or even replace the existing hall with something more suited to their needs. They had gone so far as to work with Thomas and Marker Construction to design plans for expansion.
Then as Pastor Jim Ellington says, God intervened. “Suddenly one day the old Indian Lake motors building went up for sale and our focus changed completely”. He stated that they realized the building had enough space for additional needed parking, to house administrative offices, a dedicated youth area, community meeting and outreach space and something somewhat unusual for a church. “I have to say the idea for a coffee shop took some people by surprise but once people understood that all proceeds from that coffee shop would be invested back into the community by funding outreach programs then the idea made more sense” according to Ellington. Gathering Grounds will be a full service coffee shop with specialty drinks and will offer free WiFi and a meeting and conference room available to the public. Char Ellington and Linsey Titus have been heading up the committee to launch the coffee shop and are excited that the shop will serve coffee roasted by Christian mission focused suppliers. According to them the purpose isn’t just a great cup of coffee but every drink sold helps fund the vision of Growing God’s Kingdom which is the name the church has given to this renovation project.
The building will be referred to as “The Gathering Point” and will be completed in phases as money allows. The first phase will be to enhance the sanctuary feel and worship experience at the Lighthouse and completion of the Gathering Grounds coffee shop scheduled to open early this fall. The youth center under the direction of Youth Pastor Joel Perez and his team of volunteers will be named “The Corner” and will also open this fall and offer not only a recreation center but also study tables and a mid-week worship service geared specifically towards area teens.
Positive response from congregation, community
Pastor Hafenbrack stated that the response from the congregation and even the community has been “phenomenal” and while pledges are ahead of expectations they want to limit work being done to cash in hand from pledges received so phase two of the project will come later as future pledges are fulfilled. According to Hafenbrack, “We want to be aggressive, but we also have a responsibility to be good stewards financially”.
Phase two will eventually include renovations to accommodate the administrative needs and pastor’s offices as well as a community meeting room in the back of the building with a private entrance to house more services geared towards the area’s Senior Citizen population as well as a discreet place for expanded meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, Al-Anon and eventually licensed Christian Counseling providers.
According to Russells Point Mayor Robin Reames, “This is something that has been needed in this community for a long time and I think it will have a lasting impact for generations to come”.
A community wide celebration event will be held on Sunday July 30th with a combined outdoor service in the parking lot of the Lighthouse at 10:30a.m. weather permitting. Then from 12:00 – 4:00p.m. rain or shine there will be family activities for the whole community including a dunk tank featuring the ministry team and IL football Coach Dave Coburn among others. A pasta cook off, cake walk, cornhole tournament, miniature golf, silent auction and more will take place as well. The ILCC ministry team stressed that the whole community is invited to join in this celebration.
Submitted on behalf of Indian Lake Community Church.