As the congregation looked on, Anderson Chapel AME Church of Killeen broke ground on the future Marion J. and Alice W. Douse Community Center on a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon.
Prior to the groundbreaking, the church held a rousing service, featuring song, dance and ministry of the word by Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie.
The bishop traveled from Dallas to join in celebrating the church’s 50th anniversary in conjunction with the groundbreaking ceremony.
William J. Campbell Jr., pastor of the Anderson Chapel AME Church, highlighted the contributions of the church’s founders during the service.
“When I arrived at the church almost 12 years ago, we had six of the 10 original founders living,” he said. Today, three remain, all of whom attended Sunday.
In the denomination’s 227 years of existence, it has developed more than 8,000 churches and 19 colleges and universities worldwide, Campbell said.
Locally, the church has chosen to honor the Douses with the naming of the community center. The center will be the 11th structure on the growing congregation’s campus, allowing the church and community to use the facility for a number of purposes, including public meetings.
The church raised more than $220,000 for the construction project, accounting for more than 18 percent of the projected cost. Campbell said construction should begin in the next few months.
McKenzie instructed the crowd to “remember the hills and the valleys — good times and the challenges,” and to “take it higher, to the next level,” of each member’s faith, before leading the congregation to the groundbreaking site.
The congregation cheered as the church trustees and elders, wearing hard hats and holding shovels, turned the dirt marking the site of the future community center.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to two of our leaders,” said Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin, highlighting the Douses’ leadership both within their church and within the Killeen community.