By VALERIE WIGGLESWORTH
Published: 10 February 2012 10:18 PM
The new Cathedral of Frisco brings together the traditional lines of Gothic architecture and the latest in state-of-the-art technology to serve a rapidly growing congregation.
“We wanted to create an experience for people,” pastor Keith Craft said this week as he toured the flurry of activity to finish the nearly 100,000-square-foot addition to Elevate Life Church. “We wanted people not just to see a building but to feel God.”
Religious leaders from across the country will be in Frisco to help celebrate with five days of dedication services that start Saturday night at the church, which traces its roots to services in an elementary school room more than 10 years ago.
Among them is Craft’s friend and televangelist Joel Osteen , who leads America’s largest congregation, at Lakewood Church in Houston. Osteen will lead the Sunday evening services at Elevate Life. Sunday morning services will be led by George Wood, superintendent of the Assemblies of God, the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination.
The Cathedral of Frisco’s design leaves no doubt that it is a house of worship. The pointed arches of the narthex stretch 100 feet skyward. That vertical feel continues with the narrow windows lining either side. Grandeur pervades the place, from the extensive cast stone work and gas-fired lanterns on the outside to the custom-made chandeliers and giant stained-glass window inside.
Beyond the grand entryway lies a sanctuary with 3,005 stadium-style seats. The high-tech features onstage rival the best that theatrical productions have to offer. The sound system is the same type used in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. A production crew of 20 will operate the extensive audio, video and lighting systems from a control room.
“We’re a very modern church, but we hold very dear to the traditions of faith,” team pastor Tad Tomaseski said.
To christen the building, volunteers are reading the Bible aloud from cover to cover with hour-long shifts. Craft started at 10 p.m. Tuesday with the words “In the beginning.” His son, Josh, will conclude with “Amen” just before the first service Saturday night.
The multimillion-dollar cathedral that towers over the surrounding suburban rooftops is a long way from the church’s beginnings.
Craft spent years preaching around the world with a group of Christian bodybuilders. He later made a name for himself as a motivational speaker, sharing the stage with Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev. His message focuses on the values of leadership.
A group of Frisco residents invited him to settle in Texas and use his “leadershipology” as the basis for a new church. Craft and his wife, pastor Sheila Craft, agreed. Their first services were held in a Frisco elementary school in January 2000.
The church’s original sanctuary opened on 27 acres in western Frisco in 2004. Three years later, ground was broken for the new cathedral. The church’s new name, Elevate Life, came in 2009.
Last fall, the church opened Frisco’s first charter school. Leadership Prep School emphasizes leadership skills for its 250 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Plans are to add a grade each year. The building of a high school also is planned.
Today, Elevate Life’s membership is about 7,000, and it’s still growing.
Old World influence
The new cathedral was originally planned with a modern design. But the Crafts’ tour of historic churches in Europe changed their minds.
Nicholas Cade and his Dallas architectural firm NCA Partners were tasked with creating the Old World design.
“We try to reflect what the church is all about and get their personality and their stamp,” said Cade, who noted Craft was part of the inspiration. “He’s larger than life. … Our job as architects is to try to capture that and present it through the structure.”
The new building has a large children’s wing. It also features a bookstore and an extensive coffee bar with Wi-Fi that will be open to the public. All proceeds will go toward the church’s ministries, which extend from local nonprofits to global groups that help those in need.
There’s also talk of sharing the new sanctuary with community groups. And Craft has visions for the largest production of The A Christmas Carol that North Texas has ever seen. The possibilities seem endless, yet Craft is quick to offer a reminder.
“The building is for one purpose,” he said, “to point people to Christ.”
Dedication services for the Cathedral of Frisco will be today through Wednesday at Elevate Life Church, 8500 Teel Parkway. The public is invited to attend. Services will also be broadcast live online at http://www.elevatelife.com. Schedule of services:
6 p.m. with Keith Craft, senior pastor of Elevate Life Church
9 and 11 a.m. with Dr. George Wood, superintendent of the Assemblies of God, the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination with more than 60 million members
6 p.m. with Joel Osteen, senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, and a visit from Frisco Mayor Maher Maso
7 p.m. with Ed Young, founder and senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine
7 p.m. with Stovall Weems, founder and lead pastor of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
7 p.m. with Denny Duron, chancellor of Evangel Christian Academy and pastor of First Assembly of God in Shreveport, La.
SOURCE: Elevate Life Church
AT A GLANCE
A look at some of the numbers involved in the construction of Elevate Life’s Cathedral of Frisco:
$23 million-plus — Cost for site prep and building (excludes technology)
$2 million — Value of donated services for cathedral
100,000 square feet — Addition to Elevate Life’s 27-acre campus
1,300-plus — Number of dimmers installed for light fixtures
100 feet — Height of cathedral
92 hours — Time it will take volunteers to read the Bible aloud from start to finish as part of dedication week
33 feet — Width of each of the two three-tiered chandeliers suspended from cathedral ceiling
20 volunteers — Number of people needed to run extensive audio, video and light system during services
11-plus miles — Audio-visual cable installed
1 Bible — Planted in cement under main stage of sanctuary
SOURCE: Elevate Life Church
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