Eugene Brown stood in the middle of the room, turning as he looked at the walls, floor and ceiling.
"Sometimes, I have to ask myself, 'Is this happening? Is this really happening?'" he said. "I have to give credit to God first and then to all the members of the church."
Brown, 53, pastor of True Bread Community Church, is working with his members to transform the former Yankee Athletic Association building into a worship place.
The pastor said the church purchased the 76-year-old building for $125,000 last month from Metro Bank.
The building, at 260 Lafayette St. in York
City, was held by the bank on foreclosure, according to John Birkeland, brokerage advisor with Rock Commercial Real Estate.
Meanwhile, True Bread, which has close to 100 members, will continue holding services at the Princess Street Center, 368 W. Princess St. in the city.
Brown said the immediate goal is to obtain a certificate of temporary occupancy that would allow the congregation to worship in the lower level of the former YAA building until the upper level and other parts of the structure are ready for use.
The church would like to begin worshipping in the 13,908-square-foot building early next year, said Brown, a city resident.
Raising funds: In the meantime, True Bread is raising an additional $30,000 to do renovation work, including updating the kitchen and making bathrooms ADA compatible, as well as developing a sanctuary area, sound booth, fellowship hall and banquet area, food and clothing pantry sections and activities areas for youth.
"I want to see this building open four to five times a week," Brown said. "This building isn't just for us. It's for the community."
The church also plans to offer after-school tutoring programs and computer lab, life skills programs for men and women, a music and comedy café for older adults.
"This building was a place of fellowship, where people came to socialize," said Freda Brown, the church's co-pastor and Brown's wife. "We want to keep that purpose, but we're doing it as a ministry to the community."
How it happened: True Bread started with 25 members in April 2009, renting space from another local congregation. True Bread church then started renting space that same month at the Princess Street Center.
The church continued to pray and look for its own building, Brown said.
In July, church members Stephen Jiles and his daughter, Shalaya Jiles, 25, were riding through the Lafayette Street area, when she pointed at the former Yankee AA building and told her father that God said it would be church's new worship place.
The Jileses called Brown, who immediately went to see the building with Stephen Jiles. Brown said he saw how the building would meet the church's ministry needs and called the Realtor that day.
"The Lord told our daughter this was our building," said Sharon Jiles, Shalaya Jiles' mother and a minister at the church. "And look. We're here just like God said. This shows that even our young members have a voice in this ministry."
True Bread having its own building would mean no more setting up and taking down chairs and sound equipment weekly at the Princess Street Center, Brown said.
The Browns said that while they are overjoyed about the building purchase, they wish their daughter, Michaela Breeland -- who died in November last year -- could see the new worship place.
"Michaela loved this church, and she wanted us to have a place where we could really do a lot to serve the community," Freda Brown said. "If she was here to see this building, she would be jumping (for joy) in here."
True Bread Community Church has purchased the former Yankee Athletic Association building and is raising $30,000 to convert it into a worship facility.
To volunteer for cleanup efforts, e-mail Eugene Brown, the church's pastor, at email@example.com.
To contribute financially, mail checks -- made out to True Bread Community Church -- to P.O. Box 934, York 17405. Please write "New church project" on the memo line.
Until the new facility is ready for occupancy, True Bread will continue holding services at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Princess Street Center, 368 W. Princess St. in York City.
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.