"For 14 years I've concluded worship with: 'It's time, my friends, to share the hope and joy we have in Christ. Go now in peace, sharing the love of Jesus by serving others' ... to which the congregation responds: 'With a spirit of joy!' We have become what we have been called each week to be," said Jeffrey Linman, pastor of Spirit of Joy.
|Ina Wheeler (left) and Denise Beumer support the annual Joy Mall at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, Orlando, Fla.|
Spirit of Joy appears to have left no stone unturned in transforming space and lives. After nine years of gathering in a school gym and cafeteria, members held a vigil in the parking lot of a closed home improvement store to pray about purchasing it for their church building. But then they saw a closed bowling alley across the street. By 2005, their vision to transform it into a church became a reality. Their motto: "Changing lanes, changing lives."
They'll probably always be known as the "bowling alley" church. But now concession areas serve as a bookstore and kitchen. The bar is the new youth room. Cubbies in the welcome center once held bowling shoes. Where people threw gutter balls and strikes is now a worship space with theater seating and state-of-the-art sound. The 34,000-square-foot building houses the homeless, provides literacy tutoring and offers a creative arts program.
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