CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The smiles on the faces of the group preparing to toss the ceremonial first shovelfuls of soil told the story; after 18 years and seven locations Starpoint Church finally has a home it can call its own and it's expanding already.
Starpoint Church has purchased the former worship center of Parkside Covenant Church at 14 Jarose Place. Its congregation numbers slightly more than 1,000; not bad for A church that drew 25 for its first Christmas Eve service.
Last Saturday, June 12, Pastor Roscoe Lilly, Pastor Ernie Schenk, and approximately 60 members of the congregation took part in the official groundbreaking for a 10,000-square-foot children’s wing. They were joined by state Sen. Jim Tedisco, Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett, and Shenendehowa School Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson.
The joyous atmosphere of the groundbreaking was palpable. Starpoint officials closed on the purchase of the 10,000-square-foot worship center last week and before the ink was dry on the contract their contractor had opened the ground and was hard at work on the new wing.
It’s a blessing,” Lilly said. “It’s good that a church will remain a church.”
Lilly, his wife Maryanna and five other families started Starpoint (then known as Northpoint) Church in 2003 when they began meeting in Phelan’s Banquet House in Halfmoon. After outgrowing that space the church moved its services to the Clifton Park Senior Center, then to Shenendehowa Middle School auditorium.
In 2017 church officials signed a 10-year lease on a large space in 21st Century Park. Now they have a home of their own with an equally sized children’s wing going up next door.
“This was plan B,” Lilly said. “We tried to buy where we were leasing but that didn’t happen. This site was suggested and here we are. It’s a blessing for us and a blessing for this church.”
When the formal groundbreaking ceremony started Pastor Ernie described the day as a historic one because the church was breaking ground not for current members but for the next generation.
“We have been given a very special opportunity in the life of our church to let the next generation know we care about them,” he said. “This isn’t just about those of us who are here today this is about those who are young among us and not even among us yet.”
Barrett has not only seen the church expand its membership but as the town’s leading elected official he has experienceD its largess and its giving philosophy. The church and its congregation help the town with several special events and offers volunteers as needed.
“I want to congratulate everyone here,” Barrett said. “We’ve watched, over the years, your congregation grow and the love and the support you bring has grown along with that. You are a strong element of bringing our community together. We can’t thank you enough for all the support you give this community.”
Robinson gave a personal anecdote from his arrival at Shen when Lilly reached out to the new school superintendent and said that he and his church were there to help.
“Over the years I learned of the sincerity of those simple words,” Robinson said. “In a way, being here to help can also be seen in the expansion of this church. I drive past this building every day and never noticed it had closed its doors but you have given this church another opportunity. Thank you for being another integral part of this community.”
In his remarks, Tedisco, R-Glenville, found similarities with the church having had to move seven times. He has been re-districted five times. Where the church gains congregants Tedisco said he gains constituents.
“As a public official, I go to a lot of ribbon cuttings. About 95 percent are for businesses and about five percent are churches,” he said. “I wish it was more like 50-50 because what’s happening (in churches) is something special.”
When it was Lilly’s turn to make a few remarks his joy at having such an expansive home for his flock could hardly be contained.
“I am so exCited what God is doing here,” he said. “As we are talking about building generations you can see here we are building upon foundations that other people built just a couple of years ago, and now we get to build for our next generation. We are standing here today because of God’s goodness and grace.”
The designer for the new wing was church member Liz Delgrosso, an architect.
“This is a church for children,” she said nodding toward the construction site. “We have a huge children’s ministry.”
Church officials are hoping to have the new wing open by Christmas.