Applause built up in waves as the numbers grew on the overhead screens: $50 million … $75 million … $90 million.
Finally the worshipers leapt to their feet and cheered at the final sum: a staggering $103 million in donation pledges for the next round of expansion at Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale.
The amount, coming after a two-month appeal via sermons and brochures, overshot the $80 million goal, a beaming Pastor Bob Coy reported.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this,” Coy said to his 2,400 listeners on Sunday, the last of four weekend services at the non-denominational evangelical church. “As your pastor, I am so proud of you.”
The money, most of it to be donated over three years, will be used for several projects:
A larger sanctuary, covering 360,000 square feet and seating up to 7,000 people. The current sanctuary, with 50,000 square feet, will be used partly for an auditorium and children’s classrooms.
Renovation of a youth center, including a cafe, a gym, basketball courts and a skateboard park.
A new satellite campus in south Broward, plus remodeling of existing campuses in Boca Raton and Plantation.
A four-story “discipleship building,” already under construction, which will house adult classes, the church’s day school, media and performing arts rooms, children’s weekend ministries and a 650-seat theater. Part of the building is scheduled to open in December.
Coy stressed that the buildings and equipment were part of a “24/7 ministry,” not just for weekends. Besides worship services, Calvary Chapel runs classes in parenting and finances, a foster care service, a counseling service, a feeding program, a radio station and other projects.
The funds will likely spur even more growth for Calvary Chapel, already the largest church in South Florida. Total weekly attendance at all three worship sites tops 20,000, according to executive minister Mark Davis.
He said the $103 million total is the most ever pledged by a church in America. The closest was $84 million, raised in 2005 by Second Baptist Church of Houston, Davis said.
George de Leon of Pembroke Pines, an avionics salesman, said he appreciated the church’s openness in spelling out the fund-raising goals. “Some churches just tell you how much to give. Here, they show you the whole program and where the money is going. I’m treated like family and I can give willingly.”
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