From Fellowship Park to a privately-funded health clinic, a Cape Coral church is using $1.28 million in holiday donations to fund several local initiatives.
At Sunday's services, Cape Christian Fellowship announced it had collected more than $1 million in Christmas offerings during December. The church had asked its congregation this year to give its "biggest Christmas gift to God."
Members at the church donated or raised $280,475 of the total, while an anonymous donor agreed to match every dollar with $10 - up to $1 million.
A portion of Cape Christian Fellowship’s new Fellowship Park, part of phase one of the planned 100,000-square-foot park.
"I think our church really fell in love with our initiatives," the Rev. Brett Furlong, executive pastor at Cape Christian Fellowship, said Tuesday.
The church's initial goal was to raise $50,000.
"As a staff, we were completely amazed," Furlong said.
The pre-school and elementary children alone raised $1,200 to donate. He explained that the church provided them with boxes to collect donations.
"It was a whole lot of nickels and dimes and quarters," Furlong said.
As for the anonymous donor, he would only reveal that it is a Cape Coral couple who had been members of Cape Christian Fellowship for a while.
"They didn't do it for recognition. They don't want anything named after them," Furlong said. "They wanted to see these initiatives happen."
"They felt God was leading them to give," he said.
The monies raised will fund the completion of Fellowship Park, the launch a new health clinic for the working uninsured and underinsured and the opening of a second campus for Cape Christian Fellowship in northeast Cape Coral.
The $1.28 million will also enable the church to expand Fam Jam - an interactive family night held every month - and services at local schools, along with the construction of churches in Haiti as part of an outreach.
"Four out of the five initiatives are in our city," Furlong said.
Last year, the church broke ground on phase one of Fellowship Park - a 100,000-square-foot park, which was expected to house playgrounds, sports and multi-purpose fields, parking, a pavilion, a cafe and an amphitheater.
"This donation will allow us to compete phase two and phase three," he said.
Phase two is 3,000-plus square feet of play area, which include two large playgrounds, a splash pad, restrooms, pavilions and an outdoor cafe. Phase three involves the sports and multi-purpose fields and the amphitheater.
Nearby residents voiced concerns last year about the possible traffic and noise that could come with the amphitheater. Furlong said Tuesday that the church is continuing to work with the city and is following staff directions.
"We're continuing to work with city officials," he said. "We're working with Parks and Recreation and experts in our city. We're working with police."
The church hopes to finish Fellowship Park by the summer.
In the summer or fall, Cape Christian Fellowship hopes to launch another project - the creation of the Samaritan Health and Wellness Center.
Furlong explained that the clinic will provide the typical physical treatment, as well as mental and spiritual treatment through programs and classes. The facility will be run by a nurse practitioner and will be open to those eligible.
Payment will be based on a sliding scale using criteria, like income.
"Our hope is to actually start it on our property, if possible, then move out to the (Cape Coral) hospital," he said.
The opening of a second location in the northeast is another project Cape Christian Fellowship plans to tackle with the donations collected. According to Furlong, the church membership is growing about 35 percent per year.
"Our church has been growing quite a bit," he said.
A second site enables them to have one church in two locations.
"It won't be a new building. It will be a rental," he said.
As of Tuesday, the church had not settled on the location.
Easter is expected to kick off the first service.
Along with the expansion of Fam Jam, Cape Christian Fellowship wants to host character education assemblies for more schools, as well as increase mentoring. It currently conducts them at Skyline and Patriot elementaries.
The church also wants to expand a food program that it participates in, where eligible students are sent home on Fridays with a backpack of food.
The final initiative is constructing four churches in Haiti. Furlong noted that the congregations need a weekly attendance of at least 100 to be eligible.
"The only thing they lack is a building," he said.
Cape Christian Fellowship is located at 2110 Chiquita Blvd., S. Visit: www.capechristian.com or call 772-5683.