In 1998, a handful of local pastors got together and talked about starting a crisis pregnancy center.

They knew that only God could do it, and they were willing to step out on faith that it would happen.

The ministry to women and families dealing with an unplanned pregnancy opened in 1999 as Life Choice Care Center.

On Thursday, 20 years later, about 400 friends and supporters of the now-named Citrus Pregnancy Center gathered for its annual gala celebration and fundraising dinner to celebrate the past and share the vision for the future.

“Twenty years means we’re moving into another generation of helping families facing unplanned pregnancies,” said Barb Gosa, Citrus Pregnancy Center executive director. “Volunteers, staff and board members have come and gone, our programs and services have changed, but God had remained faithful.”

Gosa said in the past 20 years the center has:

• Helped more than 4,000 individuals;

 Shared God’s plan for sexual purity with more than 2,000 students;

 Seen 229 people make a faith decision to follow Christ;

 Engaged in countless spiritual conversations, including counseling women who have had abortions and were experiencing regret and remorse;

 Provided 2,400 free pregnancy tests;

 Performed approximately 1,600 sonograms since becoming a medical clinic in 2012.

In addition, Gosa said they know of 989 babies who were born from moms who came to the center.

“We know that number is probably higher, but only God knows how many more,” she said.

Also, 39 women chose to place their babies up for adoption.

They’ve also opened two locations, which are currently in Inverness and Crystal River.

This year, the center added an Internet-based parenting skills program that new parents can access on their mobile devices, and they’ve been offering free pregnancy test clinics at various locations around the community.

They’ve also purchased a building near State Road 44 and Croft Avenue in Inverness, which they hope will be open by the end of 2019.

“Part of the miracle of this ministry is not only does it minister to women in crisis, but babies’ lives have been saved,” said the Rev. Stan Stewart, pastor of North Oak Baptist Church in Citrus Springs and one of the original group of pastors who started the center. “Souls have been saved to eternal salvation as well.”

For information about Citrus Pregnancy Center, visit citruspregnancy.org, find them on Facebook or call 352-341-5176.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

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