Ebenezer adds to love in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The Ebenezer United Methodist Church has a vision.

Not too very far in the distance, it can see being the church that Love built (capitalization intentional), one life at a time. It wishes to be driven by a personal relationship with the local parish, mired in the core values of truth, worship, prayer, service, and relationships.

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Last Sunday, the church (which has seen its congregation grow from 90 to nearly 250 in its 11-year history), took a step toward bringing these values to the community. Ground was broken for a 14,600-square foot, $2.1 million expansion. Construction is expected to begin later this month, and should take between 10 and 12 months.

A great deal of the expansion will be engulfed by a gym, which will of course double as a dance hall, theater, fellowship area, and other such uses.

After the tragic shooting of a young area child 10 years ago, says senior minister Carl LeMon, &uot;We held a meeting to discuss options for our children. For example, there’s no public playground in North Suffolk.&uot; The organization decided to create the Ebenezer Arts/Sports League (EASL) to give locals a place to go and things to do.

It started off with soccer, a program that has now grown to include 160 children. The arts program, which takes place in summer and winter, comprises over 350 adults and children. The addition, LeMon hopes, will bring even more participation into Ebenezer.

&uot;We needed to grow our sports ministry program,&uot; he says. &uot;We plan to hold an intramural basketball tournament, and expand EASL to include volleyball, indoor soccer, dance, and family night games and exercise.&uot;

The new facility will include elder daycare and tutoring for children (Ebenezer already works with Oakland Elementary School to provide academic aid for young students), and a latchkey program; a safe place for activities, homework, and nutritious snacks.

&uot;We hope to provide a place for shelter in the winter,&uot; LeMon says. &uot;We ran out of space in our old building, and had to expand.

&uot;We want that a church may meet here where children shall learn to love God and grow in grace and goodness,&uot; he continues, &uot;and in favor of God and all people, where God is worshiped in prayer and praise, where the word of God shall so be read and preached that is shall become the living word, and where the weary and heavy-laden shall find inner peace that the world can neither give nor take away.&uot;