Spirit of Faith tonight celebrates acquisition of Dove World property

Spirit of Faith Center will open its doors tonight at its Dream Center property

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Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.

A church that proclaims itself “a place of love and unity” moved across Gainesville Wednesday night to its new home at a place that some in this community and around the globe believed housed a ministry of hate.

On the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and on a jet over Pennsylvania, the Spirit of Faith church promised to bring love to the former home of Dove World Outreach Center, the church of the Rev. Terry Jones who created international turmoil with his anti-Islam actions.

“I think this marks a turning point for us and for the community of Gainesville and the nation by leading a spiritual revival,” said Kirstin Adams, a Spirit of Faith minister, who lives near the property at 5805 NW 37th St. “I live in the neighborhood and for so long we've been plagued by signs and things hanging from the property. It's going to go from that to a place of love and unity.”

Spirit of Faith, led by pastor Kenneth Claytor, was founded in 2007 and initially held services in the Thelma Boltin Center in downtown Gainesville. It has since grown to about 1,200 worshippers at 1414 NE 23rd Ave.

Following a pep rally Wednesday night, a lengthy procession of vehicles, many sporting purple and white balloons and shoe-polish messages on the windows, traveled from the old home to the new.

“Now there is a spirit of unity, and where there is a spirit of unity, there is a blessing,” Claytor said in prayer at the pep rally. “God has been so good to us.”

A press conference will be held Thursday at the Spirit of Faith Dream Center, which will include leaders such as Mayor Ed Braddy and Police Chief Tony Jones.

Church leaders estimated the crowd at the pep rally at several hundred, and the parade of cars was lengthy.

The church raised $300,000 to enable it to purchase the Dove World site. Long-range plans include a new sanctuary, day-care school and other facilities.

Spirit of Faith has a high-energy and culturally diverse membership representing 29 countries, leaders said.

When the church was Dove World Outreach Center, the Rev. Jones placed signs on the property that had various anti-Islam messages. He also burned Qurans and effigies of political figures, including President Obama.

The actions drew international condemnation. U.S. government officials said some of Jones' actions were responsible for unrest in Islamic countries that threatened the lives of Americans in those countries.

Spirit of Faith member Cynthia Allen said the former Dove World site will now stand for something different.

“We have a message of love. That is opposite of the message there before,” she said.

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