Christian Worship Center will observe its anniversary with some award-winning gospel artists and a little fire with some big meaning behind it.
The church on County Road 468 will celebrate its 10th anniversary with four nights of music and preaching beginning at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The festivities will culminate in a mortgage burning ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by a 7 p.m. concert.
A Sunday-morning worship service will conclude the observance.
"It's amazing how much the Lord has chosen to bless us in 10 short years," said the Rev. John Christian, who founded the church with his wife, Constance, on Jan. 3, 2000. "We've grown and lives have been transformed."
Musical guests will include Stellar award winner DeWayne Woods singing his hit single "Let Go, Let God", and Jonathan Nelson performing "My Name is Victory" and "Champions."
Also featured will be contemporary gospel singers Kim Burrell and Jesse Campbell. The Mime Boyz, a musical dance team will also appear, said Erika Jasper, a minister at the church who's also coordinating the celebration.
"We've got a great lineup of well-known gospel singers and we're very excited about it," she said.
The event also will include guest speakers C.E. Glover of Mount Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Gary Hall of West Jacksonville Church of God in Christ.
Also, Florida Church of God in Christ Bishop R.L Dixon,. who pastors the Faust Temple Church of God in Christ in Jacksonville, will also speak, Christian said.
"It reminds me of a Thanksgiving feast," said Christin, who also is a longtime Leeburg city commissioner and former two-term mayor. "Not a dull moment from start to finish, and there will be something for everyone."
Christian started the church amid humble beginnings with just his wife and three children in attendance. Today, the church is a 300-member congregation with four child-care centers, a women's ministry house, multiple outreach ministries and more.
Community involvement and improving the lives of residents in the Montclair area was the church's mantra from the beginning and has led to growth in membership and expansion of the worship center, completed in January 2004, from 2,400 square feet to 4,700 square feet, Christian said.
The mortgage-burning ceremony is especially meaningful given the dire economic times experienced by so many people, he said.
"I challenged the church one year ago to retire the debt, and we did it with the Lord's help," Christian said. The $222,000 mortgage payoff resulted in $250,000 savings in interest for the church, he added.
"To be able to do it in less than one year and during a recession is a testament to God's work and to our members."
The observance is open to the public, said Christian, who hopes others in the community will participate.
"This celebration isn't just for us, it's for all the people and churches in Leesburg that have helped us and supported us through the years."
Christian Worship Center is located at 929 C.R. 468. Services begin at 7:30 p.m. each night. The Mime Boyz will perform today and Kim Burrell will perform Thursday. Jonathan Nelson will appear Friday while Jesse Campbell will sing during Saturday's mortgage-burning service. He also will perform again at the Saturday evening. concert along with Woods, Jasper said.
Campbell also will perform in concert during the 9 and 11:30 a.m. worship services Sunday.