CRYSTAL LAKE – What started as a 13-member church is quickly turning into a resource hub for an entire community.
With the launch of a Compassion Center in November last year, Pastor Michael Love is looking to establish Trinity Baptist Community Church International as a haven for those in need and struck by disasters.
The Compassion Center is the latest building on the Crystal Lake campus at 5914 Route 31 that also includes a Worship Center, Family Life Center and Conference Center. Love said the inspiration for the Compassion Center came after seeing a greater demand during the church's annual food and clothing drives.
Now the center has hundreds of clothing items for infants and young children and non-perishable food items thanks in part to strong business partnerships that include biweekly donations, Love said.
"It's certainly not required to come to worship but we would love for people to come and experience the love and then come back to the center and be blessed with whatever we can offer them," Love said.
The center is open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday following the 11 a.m. service. The items are available for free or people can make a small donation if they would like, Love said.
Expansion plans are already in the works as the church plans to work with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to expand its food offerings and team up with the Crystal Lake Food Pantry as a distribution site.
Love said the church is also expanding its disaster relief outreach. The church is in talks with Red Cross to be the organization's official emergency relief site for McHenry County. If plans come together, Love said Red Cross could operate out of the campus to provide relief in emergencies and people could even take temporary shelter in the gymnasium or Family Life Center.
In 23 years, the church has grown from 13 members to more than 800 and Love said these expanded ministries are just the next step. Love has also expanded his reach through affiliate churches in Elgin and Rockford locally and India, Haiti and the Dominican Republic internationally.
"I'm actually part of a group called Christ Together where churches come together for partnership and collaboration, churches like Willow Creek and Harvest Bible Chapel," Love said of the importance of community support. "It's a good network of pastors and church families always growing. It's a good community approach."
For more information on how to donate to or use the Compassion Center, visit www.trinitybcci.org