Rock Church’s Ben S. Dillon Life Center paid in full

Published 12:21 pm Friday, October 7, 2022

The dream of two young brothers did not remain a dream. 

Ben and Danny Dillon had the idea for a gym. They began putting plans together and broke ground on the facility in 2017. 

It was that year that Ben unexpectedly went to be with the Lord.

Honoring the Lord and his brother, Danny, together with his wife Jill, pressed on with the project, seeing it completed in 2020.

It was expected that complete payment for the $2.2 million facility would take place at an uncertain point in the future, but a generous and surprise gift from a sister church in 2022 has led to the Ben S. Dillon Life Center now being paid in full.

Sharing the reaction of himself and his family to the gift, Danny said, “We got on our knees, and we just thanked God for what he did in that moment.”

The reveal of the gift came at Rock Church Franklin’s 47th anniversary celebration, and Danny could not help but recall the church’s 42nd anniversary when he broke ground on the Life Center with Ben and their father, David Dillon.

“Five years later, we went from losing my brother to building this facility in his name and his honor and it being paid off, $2.2 million just like that,” Danny said.

Growing up, Ben and Danny Dillon were talented athletes who were rarely ever able to play home games in any sport, including basketball.

“Man, we wish we had our home gym,” Danny remembered thinking.

When they got back from college, Ben started working as a principal, and Danny coached and taught at Franklin High School, but they kept talking about a gym.

Danny said they started getting plans together around 2004-07.

“It really was just going to be a gym and a couple bathrooms, nothing too grand, and it was really just me kind of dreaming,” Danny said.

Then Danny and his wife Jill took over the pastorship of Rock Church Franklin in 2015, with Ben serving as the principal of Rock Church School.

“That’s really when it started getting into gear,” Danny said of the gym planning. “And as the church was growing, we saw that not only did we need a gym, we needed a new sanctuary because we weren’t fitting as much.”

The dream for the facility expanded to it being a multi-purpose building that could benefit the church, school and community, including two stories, locker rooms, a kitchen, classrooms, a weight room and more.

Danny said every May from 2017 to 2020, Rock Church asked for pledges. It received $147,000 in 2017, around $245,000 in 2018, $312,000 in 2019 and $350,000 in 2020.

The community gave some, as did individuals, and the primary givers were businesses represented within the church.

From 2017-20, “we raised a million dollars within that span, and we were able to use that to actually pay as we went,” Danny said.

A formal groundbreaking came in fall 2018, and Rock Church moved into the Ben S. Dillon Life Center in spring 2020.

After a three-year pledge, $644,000 remained to be paid.

That amount ended up coming from Rock Church of Daytona Beach and the Gorinis who led it. 

Danny explained that the Gorinis are like second parents to Jill and himself, and the relationship between the two churches is close.

Danny recalled that at Rock Church Franklin’s 47th anniversary celebration, Pastor Fred Gorini “talked about being at the right place at the right time, and he said, ‘We’re going to do something that’s at the right place, at the right time, with the right people and the right building with the right church.’”

Then he handed Danny and Jill an envelope that said, “Paid in Full — $644,000.”

“I opened it up, and I just lost it,” Danny said. “I was crying for probably anywhere from five to 10 minutes.”

In reaction to the Ben S. Dillon Life Center being paid off, Ben’s wife, Micah Dillon, quoted John 4:48: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you [people] see [miraculous] signs and wonders, you [simply] will not believe.’”

“It’s a sign that makes us all wonder,” Micah said of the gift. “We rejoice at the Father’s lovingkindness to this dream being completed. Paid in full feels good! Death has no sting when we walk into the Life Center full of hope and liberty.”

David Dillon said, “In a real sense, the Ben S. Dillon Life Center is a 21st century miracle. It’s constructed of steel on a foundation of cement, but it’s really made of dreams, prayer, faith, sacrifice and a super-collaborative effort of hard work from amazing people.

“Ben Dillon laid his foot on the first shovel at the groundbreaking ceremony, and he didn’t do any work after that,” David continued. “He left for glory. The Lord did the rest by inspiring his brother, Danny and his wife, Jill, to lead the charge to make this dream a reality.”

David noted that the Life Center is a building where people can experience Christ’s love in a unique environment.

“It’s teeming with kids excited about Jesus and playing sports to the glory of God,” he said. “Our church went from worshiping in a renovated dairy barn to a fancy basketball court. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll build a regular church. Patty and I are fine right here, fulfilling what the psalmist David said: ‘I will enter His courts with praise!’”

His wife, Patty Dillon, said, “Our hearts have always been for the kids. We have been blessed over the years to have many come through the doors of Rock Church! Our son Ben had the same heart for the children. 

“He spent 33 years of his life at Rock Church School, 13 as a student (he was a kindergartener the first year of our school), then for 20 years he poured back into RCS students as an educator and principal,” she continued. “He would be beyond grateful and overjoyed to see this Life Center with all the people and children — it is a blessing.”

She quoted Psalm 145:4: “One generation shall praise Your works to the next and declare Your mighty acts.” 

“One of the Lord’s mighty acts happened for us in June as the Ben S. Dillon Life Center was paid in full,” she said. “We are overwhelmed and ever thankful. The children and all the generations were praising his works and continue to declare his awesome acts.”

Jill said, “To complete the Life Center and see it paid off so quickly is phenomenal. Our church body is made up of faith-filled believers who believe in this community. They followed my husband as he took action to build what God placed in his heart. The Kingdom of God is alive and moving in our area, this is proof of that. To see it finished feels incredible, but lends the question ‘what’s next?’”