Fellowship Park, a gift to the Cape Coral community by Cape Christian Church, opens to the public on Easter Sunday. It has been a four-year project of the congregation to fulfill its mission to serve those outside the membership as well as those inside the congregation.
"Cape Coral has great parks, but there are so many families in this area that we thought we needed to give back to the community," said Cape Christian pastor of missions Chad Woolf. "As we like to say here, it's our families blessing your families."
Fellowship Park is a project with about a dozen amenities. The main fountain area was completed in Phase I in 2012. Phase II includes separate shaded play areas for younger and older children; four lighted half-court paved basketball courts; a 3,000- square-foot splash pad featuring 57 water jets and LED programmed lighting at night; a lighted sports field; three covered pavilions with lights, fans and electrical outlets that can be rented for parties; courtyard seating for 200; and Tony & Ada's Cafe that features hand-crafted coffee, drinks, gourmet crepes and salads.
Tony & Ada's Cafe is named in honor of Tony and Ada Hoestetler of Indiana, who were among the founding members of the congregation. The new cafe further honors their roots by incorporating an Indiana stressed barn wood interior decor.
"The church should be a place where people know they can turn to for help in times of crisis," says pastor Wes Furlong. "This park is a physical representation of our commitment to be that kind of church in our city. Since we decided to build Fellowship Park instead of a new sanctuary, Cape Christian has doubled in size and we're actually almost out of sanctuary space."
After Easter, the main sanctuary building will be revamped to add about 400 seats.
"As we were growing, we were not comfortable looking at $20 million for a new sanctuary to take us from 1,500 to 3,000 attendees," said Woolf. "That's when we decided in 2011 that the park would be a wonderful way to share with the community."
Though there might be areas not completed Sunday, including Tony & Ada's new quarters, the park will be open and safe for the public to enjoy.
"Come worship with us and stay to enjoy the park with the whole family," said Woolf.
Services this weekend
* Good Friday
at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
* Holy Saturday
at 6:30 p.m.
* Easter Sunday
at 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m.
and 11:30 a.m.
Services on Good Friday will be held at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Holy Saturday services at 6:30 p.m.; and Easter Sunday services start at 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
By Christmas 2012, the capital building campaign had $1.3 million on hand to start the design, permit and construction process, thanks to the generosity of one congregation member who donated $1 million and the rest coming from other congregation sources.
Easter services will be held beside the park in a 15,000-square-foot fully enclosed and air-conditioned tent that will seat 1,200 adults.
"We remain committed to investing our time and resources to supporting people beyond the walls of our church and are expanding our community support programs as well," adds Furlong.
Some of those support services include adding a full-service counseling center, foster care services with Children's Network, and addiction recovery services.
Cape Christian Church and Fellowship Park is at 2110 Chiquita Blvd. The 25-year-old church conducts worship services for 2,200 people each weekend.
For more information visit www.capechristian.com.