The cross on top of the mound of dirt at 2162 Route 37 East in Brown Township has vanished as construction begins for a new church to take its place.
The initial site development of more than 19 acres has begun with the excavation of the site with full construction happening in about six weeks, according to Dave Carter, lead pastor at New Beginnings United Methodist Church at 385 E. William St., formerly known as Grace UMC at The Point.
Eventually the church will have parking space, garage, water retention pond, pavilion and a beach volleyball court ready to use by next spring, he said.
“Just something so we can start using the site,” he said.
A ministry center is in the works but Carter said the church wants to finish the project without debt.
And if New Beginnings’ more than 100-year-old existing church sells, “we may be homeless for a while,” he said.
The church has taken a different mindset for its new home. New Beginnings’ new philosophy for its new home is to offer something to the community rather than the congregation. Carter said the process is like launching a new church from an old one, which can be difficult for the church’s membership of about 200.
“We really try to not think normal,” he said. “People want to know what a church has to offer.”
Carter said he could see the facility as an alternative to Delaware Community Center YMCA for the east side of Delaware.
But the church is still committed to its ministry off site, including raising funds for autism organizations.
Carter told The Gazette last year that the existing church has had several building additions, and it did not have historical value.
While the site would be good for a daycare or a small business, Carter said the city had no interest in purchasing the building despite its potential plans to improve The Point.
Although the $23 million project would expand the intersection of Routes 36/37 to four lanes under new railway structure, Carter wasn’t sure if it would alleviate traffic congestion at the bottleneck.
“We’ll see if its works out,” he said.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.