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West End's Lighthouse Worship Center says goodbye as FC Cincinnati prepares to move in

Posted at 12:55 AM, Dec 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-08 01:13:27-05

CINCINNATI -- Pastor Patrick Winkler will preach Sunday from an island in the middle of Central Avenue. By Friday evening, everything around Lighthouse Worship Center had already been leveled to clear a path for FC Cincinnati's Major League Soccer stadium.

Lighthouse will be gone, too, by the time shovels meet dirt Dec. 18. Winkler, who helped found it in 1990, said he prefers to view the change as an exciting one heralding growth for the long-underserved West End. 

"I don't want to stand in the way of progress," he said. "I think this is going to be something that's good for the city. It'll employ some from the city. It'll bring people into the city."

Still, he anticipated holding back tears when the time came to leave his clerical home for good. In '90, he and other founders spent months working into the early morning to prepare the space for services. Their mission, he said, was to bring Christ into the lives of ordinary people. 

His 60-member congregation -- some black, some white, all of whom "just love each other" -- will assemble at Lighthouse for the last time Sunday.

They'll follow him to a new worship space in Fort Wright, Kentucky, in early 2019; FC Cincinnati will assist with the move.

"It's an exciting time," he said. "Any time that I feel I'm in the will of God, I feel it's exciting."

Still, he added: "There's going to be some services where I'm going to have to manage my composure."