Church will hold grand opening celebration this weekend.
East County resident Karen Travis remembers the early days, when Risen Savior Lutheran Church had no home.
Like many churches, it started in February 2001 with home Bible study and grew, later meeting at the ComCenter on State Road 70 and at Tara and Gilbert W. McNeal elementary schools before moving in 2009 to its permanent home at 14605 59th Ave. E. in Bradenton.
The new church building itself was just one-third complete when they moved in, with the fellowship hall serving for worship services, community gatherings, Bible school and other needs. A future sanctuary and wing for classrooms had
exterior walls, but were not built out — until now.
On March 18, congregants welcomed the completion of the church, holding their first service in its new 130-seat sanctuary and Bible study classes in a new wing, which serves as a space for Bible study, children, youth and administrative offices.
“It’s absolutely great,” Travis said. “The fellowship hall has been our sanctuary. We’ve had a place to worship so we can be thankful for that, but having a completed sanctuary is really nice. It feels more like it’s God’s place here in our little church.”
Risen Savior will hold a public Grand Opening Fair from 4-8 p.m. March 24 and a grand opening worship service at 9:30 a.m. March 25.
The Rev. Caleb Free said the roughly $800,000 expansion project effectively increased usable space in the building by two-thirds.
Free said he hopes the church can do more community outreach with the new space. On its list of possibilities is hosting nonprofit community groups and possibly launching a faith-based preschool.
“We’re just in the exploration phase right now,” Free said, noting a decision on the preschool should be reached by late September. “The driving force we have is we want everyone to know Jesus. We believe a completed facility gives us more opportunity.”
Free said the grand opening festival is a way to invite the public to see the new facilities. The grand opening weekend worship service will launch a new sermon series called “What are you looking for?” Free said his goal is to share how God offers hope, joy and peace in a world that often seems without hope.