The top of the cross is 130 feet above the ground – probably the tallest structure in the rural community outside of perhaps a cell phone tower.
The steeple and cross are symbolic, said the church's pastor, the Rev. Benny Keck.
"We want to be a lighthouse to our community. What better way than a cross that can be seen a good distance off?"
A crane hoisted a platform to the top of the steeple and Keck put the cross in place Thursday afternoon. He admitted the height was a bit scary.
""It's a long way up," he said.
The church, at 3223 N. Gallagher Road, hopes by May or early June to complete the $5.2 million expansion that includes a 1,000-seat sanctuary, double the seating of the current one. The 45,000-square foot addition also includes preschool and Sunday school space. Construction started last April.
"We are truly blessed to see how God is moving and working in our community. This new addition will give us the ability to expand our ministry reach and accommodate the growing needs of our community now and well into the future," Keck said.
Founded in 1904, the church has grown to encompass more than a 28-acre campus serving more than 1,600 members. The new sanctuary is designed to be easily expanded to seat 2,000 as the congregation grows.
The project has been blessed in many ways.
Sims Crane and Equipment, a Tampa company, donated the use of the crane and the operator to lift the steeple into place, Keck said. R&R Rebar, which supplied all the reinforcing bar for the job, sent a check to the church for $1,000, said Mark Staffieri, project manager for Hennessy Construction Services.
Staffieri added that he used local companies in the construction. "Our plumber is right here from Dover," he said. "All the site work was done by a Dover company. We tried to keep as much of the work as we could close to the project."
Plant City Courier - March 9, 2011