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East County Wednesday, Jul. 1, 2009 8 years ago

Cornerstone breaks ground on expansion

by: Pam McTeer

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Even from childhood, Teresa Tyrrell knew God existed.

But until she started attending Cornerstone Church of Lakewood Ranch, she didn’t believe she could have a relationship with Him.

“For me, God was more of a fact,” she said. “My entire life, I grew up knowing that God existed, but it was like I put him on a shelf. It was through the teaching — the different classes, through (Pastor Dave Sturkey) and other people — that made me realize that there’s more to Christianity.”

And that’s one of the reasons why Tyrrell is so excited see the church expand.

After years of planning, Sturkey and church members gathered June 28 to break ground on a new 32,000-square-foot church building that eventually will include a new sanctuary, industrial kitchen and office space, among other amenities.

“We are so looking forward to it,” Tyrrell said. “The space is so needed.”

The first part of the project will include the construction of the entire outer shell of the structure, but only the completion of new classrooms for children and adults, a new entryway and welcome area, a new nursery area and indoor playground and a coffee shop area for $3.2 million.

Construction crews will be knocking down one or two walls of the existing sanctuary to create up to 200 more seats to meet current worship needs, Sturkey said.

“We feel like we’re topped out at our current facility,” he said. “I love reaching out to new people. This is going to be a tool to do this.”

Build-out of the rest of the project, estimated at about $1 million, will be completed as funds become available and likely would take three to four months to finish, Sturkey said.

“The existing building (eventually) would be a children’s ministry center with puppet shows and games,” Sturkey said. “We’ve always been a family church, but our facility has never been conducive for children’s ministry. We want to grow with young families. We’re really hoping that children’s ministry is going to take off here. We think that’s the future of the church.”

In preparation for the expansion, Cornerstone already has hired two new staff members. Sandy Lanclos has started part-time as the children’s ministery director, and Dave Dickmann has started full-time as the new family and lay ministry director.

The church also is putting together teams to fill new ministry roles, such as helping serve at the coffee shop.

Church leaders have moved forward with the project cautiously to make sure the project stays on solid financial footing. And the strategy has proved effective.

Not only do leaders have a contingency plan in place, but also they’ve been able to shave off more than $100,000 from the project’s cost in recent months because of changes in financing and a reduced cost for materials, Sturkey said.

“It’s been a good environment for financing,” he said.

Construction on the project should begin in the next few weeks.

For more information about Cornerstone, visit its Web site at

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].

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