Sunday afternoon, Anderson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Killeen will break ground on the Marion J. and Alice W. Douse Community Center, a project that has been in the works on its campus for nearly 10 years.
The community center will be used for a myriad of purposes, said William Campbell Jr., senior pastor of the church.
“The initial thing is to increase our capacity to provide ministry to the community, and then secondarily, to service our growing congregation,” he said.
Activities in the expanded space will include community meetings and social services.
“Anderson Chapel church has been a social service witness in the community and will continue to do so,” Campbell said.
In 2013, the church provided 6,200 people in the community with food and clothing. It also provides rental and utility assistance.
Campbell introduced the idea of the community center in fall 2004 as a means to allow the youth of the church to host drama and dance productions, with advanced technology and lighting.
“A legacy is about creating space for generations that follow,” Campbell said. “The church has to provide creative space for the generation that’s coming.” The church is part of a triangle for the development of youth, according to Campbell — the triad of home, school and church requires time committed to family life, mental preparation and a spiritual outlet.
The community center’s namesakes, Marion J. Douse and Alice W. Douse, are two of the three living founders of the church. The Douses have been pillars of the Killeen community for more than 50 years, with Alice Douse serving as the first female African-American principal in the Killeen Independent School District.
“It’s very much an honor,” Marion Douse said.
The community center space will be able to seat up to 500 people. Campbell would someday like to add a commercial kitchen to the space.
On Friday, the church hosted a fundraising dinner to encourage community participation in the project.
“This (was) our first community event to (say) here’s what we’ve done so far, now will you help us ... will you join us on this journey,” Campbell said.
During the dinner, the Douses were presented with portraits by artist Leonard Freeman, which will hang in the foyer of the center upon its completion.
“We’re really grateful that someone thought of us. Words can’t express how I really feel,” Alice Douse said.
Sunday’s groundbreaking will feature remarks by Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie at 3:30 p.m. and Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin, preceded by a brief celebration at 3 p.m.
The Douses remain active church members.
“Our church has a mission that we support totally,” Alice Douse said. “To those persons who come behind me, it shows that there are people in the community who will support you and honor you because of the things that you have accomplished.”