By Terry Rogers
Lighthouse Christian Church, currently located on Milford-Harrington Highway, hopes to open their new facility in May 2016. The new church will include a café, several areas designed for fellowship, that will eventually seat 900 people, and prayer rooms that will be open 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
“We are creating what we hope will be a beautiful place of worship in an effort to continue our main goal of spreading the word of God and providing services to the community, not just locally, but globally as well,” said Pastor Joel Andrus, who serves as co-pastors along with his father, Royce Andrus, his mother, Glenda and his wife, Shenae.
The new church will feature a significant number of windows, something that Pastor Andrus’ mother envisioned. He said that she pictured a church full of light and the many windows in the new building provide that light. The entrance to the church features large windows and there will be a dome above the entrance as well. The dome is currently under construction inside the building and the leaders of the church hope to see it set very soon.
In addition to the multiple windows, the entrance to the church offers a greeting area where church attendees can talk with the pastors and will be greeted by other church members. There will be a kiosk where visitors can sign in, get more information about the church and even give donations or tithes electronically using iPads.
The sanctuary will have high-end media throughout with an environmental projection screen that will allow those providing education during services to use visual aids to assist in their teaching. The media additions are designed to enhance the lessons being taught at the church. The church will also have designated handicapped seating throughout with special entrances for those who may have mobility issues.
“After we poured the concrete inside and placed drywall, we asked our church members to come in and write their favorite Bible passages or notes of encouragement directly on the walls and flooring,” Pastor Andrus said. “Those will be covered by carpeting, flooring and paint, but we will know they are there. We consider those words to be part of our foundation, even though they are not seen.”
The café, which will be set up near the entrance to the church, will be arranged similar to a Starbucks, Pastor Andrus said. The hope is that church members will enjoy coffee and pastries prior to services and remain after for additional fellowship. The café is also designed to be used for special events, including weddings.
“We are partnering with some of the best wedding planners in the state in order to provide our church as a premiere wedding destination,” Pastor Andrus said. “We are also including a museum gallery in the entrance that will allow visitors to see how our church has grown from its humble beginnings.”
Pastor Royce Andrus and his wife came to Delaware from Louisiana in 1971 after serving as evangelists throughout the world for two years after their marriage. Pastor Andrus said that they came to Delaware because they wanted to build a church on the East Coast.
“We started our services in the Kiwanis Building,” Pastor Andrus said. “My wife and I were the pastors, the secretaries, even the janitors, setting up chairs every Sunday and taking them down. We moved to our current location and opened the school in 1976. We decided it was time for this new building due to our growth and we purchased this land in 1999. All of this has sprouted from a cornfield.” The church purchased 72 acres and subdivided parts of it for residential and commercial lots as well as retaining a portion for the church, school and youth facility. A portion of the land was sold to the Hampton Inn and there are still building lots for sale to anyone who wants to build in the subdivision known as Lighthouse Estates.
The current building is for sale, the Andrus’ explained, and they hope a buyer is found before the new church is completed. The school, which will be an Academy of Arts and Sciences, will be built in the next phase of construction and the final phase will include a Youth Building which will include a large gymnasium. The school and youth building will be connected to the church, although they will be separate buildings.
“We have a goal to complete the entire construction completely debt free,” Pastor Andrus said. “All of this has been paid for through donations and the entire building process has included input from church members and the community. We have been planning this for 15 years, so we have not simply placed a new church on new land. Since we are the developer for the subdivision, we have expended almost $3 million in infrastructure, including water, sewer, roadways and more in order to bring this vision to life.”
The Andrus’ say that they feel it is imperative that they build the church without debt as they want to use any monies collected to further their evangelistic endeavors. The church offers many services not only to the Milford community but also provides missionary services throughout the world. Pastor Andrus said that they never hound members for money, but ask that they give what they can afford.
“We must give God credit for this,” Pastor Andrus said. “He has provided for us so that we may have a larger impact on the community. He had a place for us and He guided us to it.”