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Growing Church Finds New Home in Elmsford

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Six years ago, Rocco Dapice and his wife, Jennifer, came to Westchester County with $500, no friends and no real idea of what was next.

The only thing they had was a feeling that they should be here, a feeling the People’s Church pastor said was inspired by God.

“To be honest, when we made the move I felt like I was either crazy or called,” Dapice said. “Why else would we do it?”

On Easter Sunday the pastor will celebrate the grand opening of his nondenominational church’s new location at La Quinta Inn in Elmsford, a fitting time for a church looking for a fresh start.

“Easter Sunday just seemed right,” Dapice said of the opening date. “It’s the most churchgoing day of the year.”

A native of Utica, Dapice studied classical jazz at SUNY Potsdam in upstate New York before traveling the country for a number of years.

In 2006, he moved to Westchester with his wife and their two children. In December of that year they started the People’s Church, a musical-inspired ministry, in the banquet room of the Eldorado West Diner in Tarrytown.

Admittedly, it was an unusual place for a church, Dapice said. But it was there that he built the church from the ground up with what he called a warm, inviting, family-oriented atmosphere.

“It’s hard for people to visit in the first place, so we really try to be friendly,” he said.

Just over five years later, the People’s Church, with worshippers traveling from as far as Yonkers, White Plains and even Connecticut, had already outgrown the diner, and they began to consider relocating.

On Friday, Dapice showed off the new space in the upstairs banquet room of the Saw Mill River Road hotel. Dozens of chairs lined the room, facing an open stage where Dapice will deliver his Sunday sermon and a band will play during the service.

Next door sits a jungle-themed ministry room for the children, a luxury that the church wasn’t able to offer at the Eldorado Diner.

And already the move has created a new energy in the church, he said.

“There is momentum and excitement in the air,” Dapice said. “It will be a special Sunday.”

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