First Baptist Church Garden Grove in Brooksville has been undergoing some changes since James Caskey became pastor in 2009.
“The church has had an older congregation over the years, and we’ve been able to expand the vision to include families,” Caskey said. “We’ve at least doubled in our attendance since I’ve been here in December 2009, and we’re really trying to focus on families and the needs families have.”
It’s why the church hired a contractor, who is currently in process of getting permits approved so the church can begin construction on an 18-foot high, 40-by-60-foot, open-sided pavilion on the church grounds large enough to house a basketball court.
“As soon as we get the permit we’re going to form a pad and foundation, and we’re hoping that will happen within three to four weeks,” Caskey said. “We’re trying to appeal to Home Depot and Lowe’s and actually did get a promise from Home Depot that they will be helping us, but we don’t know in what capacity, yet.”
At this point the church has raised $20,000 to pay off the building and submit the architectural drawings, Caskey said, which was done through donations, spaghetti dinners, fundraisers and yard sales.
“We’re a small church, and we’re not doing this for ourselves only; for the most part we’re doing this as an outreach ministry, and that’s why we started in the community and asked for help,” Caskey said. “We raised $12,000 ourselves with just a handful of members, and we’ve started fundraisers and we could really use the help.”
The church wants to raise $30,000 more to complete a planned community park and playground next to the church, Caskey said, which will include a gazebo and brick walkway.
“There are about 100 homes in this Garden Grove area, and there isn’t anything, nowhere for the kids to play,” Caskey said. “We’re five miles from downtown Brooksville, and almost that far from the YMCA, and these kids are sort of stuck here.”
They skate, play basketball, and ride bikes in the parking lot, Caskey said.
“I started building a relationship with them, and starting thinking, ‘It’d be great if they had a playground, maybe fenced-in where parents could come,” Caskey said. “(The pavilion) will be used as a picnic shelter and basketball court, and a place for us to meet centrally and also as a park for folks to come and barbecue and stuff like that, to provide recreation for families.”
Two years ago the church started a children’s ministry program, Caskey said, which resulted in an attendance upward of 30-50 kids inside the church in two different locations.
“We’ve actually outgrown the children’s program, and it’s evolved that way,” Caskey said. “We really want it to be a family-oriented ministry.”
On April 19-20 there will be a “Spring Yard and Bake Sale” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the church, located at 18131 Stromberg Ave. in Brooksville.