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Tomoka Christian Church
By: Jennifer Walker-Journey

Seven years ago, the leadership of Tomoka Christian Church recognized a need to expand its facilities. The church’s mission to spread God’s word by reaching out to people not only in the community but also throughout the world was a welcoming message that drew membership from throughout the coastal community of Ormond Beach, Florida.

The church’s current facility consisted of several smaller buildings. Expanding on its current campus was not an option as the church was landlocked, so leadership looked at constructing an entirely new church building. Plans seemed to be moving along smoothly … and then the recession hit.

Like many churches and businesses at the time, obtaining loans for new construction was difficult. Tomoka leadership tabled the idea of a new church building. It was five years later, after the economy turned around, that the church decided it was time to move forward with its plans.

“It was nothing short of a miracle from the Lord,” said Robert S. McLean, senior project manager with Cogun, Inc., a firm that has managed more than 680 church building projects since it was founded 44 years ago.

Tomoka had identified a lot about a mile from its current location that would be ideal for building its new church. However, they could not purchase the lot until they sold their current facility. The miracle came from another church, which offered to buy Tomoka’s building and rent it back to Tomoka until its new church building was completed.

Tomoka turned to Cogun, Inc. to manage its building project. Leadership expressed a need for a larger, state-of-the-art sanctuary and classrooms for their thriving youth ministry. There was also a dire need for volunteer and administrative offices. Plus, the church wanted more space for small group meetings, as well as larger gatherings for fellowship.

The new facility would accommodate all those needs with multiple ministry environments including a new sanctuary, chapel, café, classrooms and offices within 60,000 square feet.

The main glass-front entry featured high ceilings and an open floor plan with a café and plenty of room for socializing before and after worship services. 

The centerpiece of the building was the sanctuary, which included a stage with screens and professional audio, visual and lighting. Seating for 800 fanned out from the center stage. Rooms lining the sanctuary provided space for small group meetings but could also be opened up in the future to accommodate up to 200 more seats for congregants. Additional classrooms were placed behind the sanctuary.

Fanning out from either side of the sanctuary were two wings. The first was designed for children ages preschool through fifth grade.

“Their children’s ministry is thriving and they needed more room to grow the program,” McLean said. The preschool was designed to state certification standards in keeping with the church’s interest in opening a daycare in the future.

The second wing housed a large open room for youth activities for kids in middle school and high school, as well as administrative offices. “This was a real upgrade for them,” McLean said. “It was the main hub for all the ministries.”

Behind the church, a separate maintenance garage and food pantry was added. This, McLean says, was a priority for the church. One of its missions is to provide nonperishable food for the needy.

The facility was built using tilt-wall construction, which consists of sturdy concrete walls. The size of the project and the 50-foot-tall walls made tilt-wall a most cost-effective option. It also would cut down on maintenance costs and provide strength against coastal Florida’s hurricane force winds.

Using tilt-wall took some convincing. “Most people think of tilt-wall as a big box. It’s mostly used in warehouse construction,” McLean said.

However, the building features an impressive 98 corners, a far cry from a “boxy” warehouse. The concrete walls were also accented with brick veneers and covered in neutral-colored textured paint. Deep red accents and a Spanish tile roof rounded out the Spanish eclectic design.

“You take something plain and with the use of shadow blinds and different architectural things it doesn’t look like tilt-wall at all. It’s very attractive,” he said.

Once ground was broken, construction moved quickly. “The biggest challenge was getting started after the project was on the shelf for so long,” McLean said. “We were working with a five-year-old design and a lot of things had changed over that time. It required a lot of concentration and organization, and we made some changes midstream that were really significant, but they also really improved the project. So, being able to stay on top of things was very important.”

Construction was expected to take about a year and a half, but plans went smoothly and the project was completed three months early. The church held its first service in the new facility on January 25, 2013.

“It has been a blessing to complete this project for Tomoka Christian School and to witness the great things that are being done with this new tool for reaching the lost of Ormond Beach,” McLean said. “It’s not often we build a complete project that includes so many different environments for worship and ministry to take place. But what is most interesting about Tomoka is what it does outside the walls. They are all over the world – in this country and other countries. They are very mission focused and very outside those four walls, or 98 corners,” McLean said. “They are very focused outward, and it’s been a true pleasure to work with them.”

Cogun, Inc. is located in Lima, Ohio, and has completed more than 680 church building projects since 1970. Projects range from building additions/renovations to complete relocations. Cogun manages projects from planning through construction, www.Cogun.com.

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