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Living Lord Lutheran Church in Lakewood Ranch begins expansion

The new construction project will introduce a 2,274-square-foot events hall.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. June 10, 2022
  • East County
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Bob Scott, a member of the Evangelism Committee and the Building Expansion Team at Living Lord Lutheran Church in Lakewood Ranch, has seen the times when the church has been full and an Alcoholics Anonymous group has met under some nearby trees because it was raining.

“It gets you when you see these people with no place to go, and they're trying to help themselves and help the community,” Scott said.

A wooden stake stands in the ground, marking a corner of the space the new events center will occupy.
A wooden stake stands in the ground, marking a corner of the space the new events center will occupy.

With the community growing, members of the Living Lord Lutheran Church felt it was important to expand what the church could offer. On May 29, the church broke ground on a new events center.

Living Lord Lutheran has been trying to help groups, such as the Boy Scouts, the Taoist Tai Chi Society and Gamblers Anonymous, to have a place where they could hold meetings. All those groups had a representative walk into the church to ask for help in terms of space. The church simply had no room left.

Scott said space concerns started to be discussed by church members four years ago. They began to discuss building an events center on the east side of their lot that would include an events hall, a kitchen and administrative offices.

The church initially considered expanding its sanctuary but eventually decided that building should be left the way it is and instead decided on a new building.

The 2,274-square foot events center will accommodate up to 144 seats in the meeting portion of the building. Besides hosting groups, the space can be used for gatherings associated with weddings, funerals or religious meetings.

Scott said the events center could host events, such as a jazz concert or a meeting of representatives of small churches in the area.

Besides hosting groups, the church, which is located at 1107 Palmbrush Trail, hopes its new building can develop some "disciples" for the church.

“You do that by ministries,” Scott said, referring to the church’s outreach into the community. “You do ministries because you have the room to do it.”

Scott said the first phase of construction will focus on the overall shell of the building, the meeting space, the kitchen and the restrooms. He said that phase of construction should be finished by the end of the year and will at that time be open. The kitchen will allow a nonprofit, such as Our Daily Bread, to make meals for the homeless and also will allow the church to perform catering.

A second phase will concentrate on the administrative space, a reception area, more restrooms and a parking lot, but the start of that construction will be determined by fundraising, which could take another year or two. Once the administrative area is finished, the church will move its current offices to the new building which will allow for its existing preschool to expand. 

The original cost of the project has been about $1 million, but Scott said that cost has almost doubled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That rising cost made the church decide to do the construction in two phases.

The church began fundraising four years ago and now has raised more than $800,000 with contributions coming exclusively from members of the church.

“Our function here is not just to have a church on Sunday," Scott said. "Our function is to have a place to do ministry for the community. We're trying to take care of all the people that come to us and want to use our facility when we're not using it on Sunday.”