The Hope Center, a 13,050-square-foot facility on the campus of Mariners Bethel United Methodist Church in Ocean View, is expected to be completed in January.
In the planning stages since 2015, the building will provide additional space for church activities and outreach, and be available for community activities as well.
“The Hope Center will enable us to pursue new and emerging ministries, and to better engage with our community,” said Christina Wilson, family and youth ministries director.
Mariners’ youth ministry, known as CRASH (creating revolution and saving hearts), typically has more than 100 young people in its program.
The Hope Center gives CRASH and other church ministries the space they need to hold meetings and activities for large numbers of people. “The Hope Center provides additional space for fulfilling Mariners’ vision of growing spiritually healthy people through all generations,” said Woody Wilson, pastor.
The building includes a 45-by-74-foot multipurpose hall at its center, which will be used for large gatherings and recreational activities such as basketball, volleyball and pickleball. Surrounding the center hall are meeting rooms, classrooms, a computer lab, a stage, kitchen café, prayer room and storage areas. The multipurpose hall can accommodate 400 people either in rows or around circular tables.
The Hope Center is the first major facilities addition to Mariners since 2003, when a new sanctuary was built. The congregation approved the Hope Center project in June 2016, and ground was broken on the $3.8 million facility in November 2019, after two-thirds of the projected costs had been raised through gifts.
“The church’s outreach vision is to have no unaddressed human need within a 12-mile radius of the church … and beyond that,” said Dave Humphrey, pastor. “Those basic human needs are food, clothing and shelter. It is our mission to bring transforming love and change lives by embracing our neighbors in Sussex County.”
One of the new ministries, which will probably begin in fall 2021, is an after-school program called Enrichment of Hope, planned to serve at-risk children and youth ages 12-18. This two-hour program three days a week will include help with schoolwork and general academic needs during the first hour, and training in life skills and an emphasis on health and fitness in the second hour. The session will end with dinner and a message of hope aimed at teaching values, and moral and faith lessons. The academic session will be led by volunteers with prior training or accreditation in education and the specified subject.
“We hope to engage other churches and volunteers both from Mariners and the community at large to help mentor and teach, help with meals and other aspects of the program,” said Wilson. “We will be working closely with the Indian River School District to identify students who could benefit from one-on-one engagement with an adult or older youth.”
The new facility will also enable Mariners to host a Week of Hope service program in which 100 youth and adults per week come from around the country to southeastern Sussex in the summer as volunteers to help local organizations and individuals with manual tasks. The program could involve up to 500 volunteers throughout the summer.
The church’s food program, Feed My Sheep, which provides lunch at the church and home delivery for those who need a meal, recently expanded from one day to two each week. Having an extra service kitchen will facilitate the needs of Feed my Sheep.
Also, Rock of Ages, a program for those 70 and over, will now be able to accommodate many more people at its semiannual special events.