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Sarasota church gifted $500,000 from Hugh Culverhouse Jr.

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When Hugh Culverhouse Jr. said he wanted to make a gift and challenge others to step up their giving, Church of the Redeemer Rector Fr. Charleston Wilson was delighted but had no idea what to expect. 

However, when Wilson heard the amount, he was struck speechless.

The $500,000 donation marks the largest donation, outside a capital campaign in support of a specific goal, in the church’s history. 

Culverhouse is a local developer and attorney who is CEO and owner of Palmer Ranch Holdings and the son of Hugh Culverhouse Sr., the longtime owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Culverhouse said he wanted to offer a gift independent of a specific task or goal. 

Instead, with the church’s membership having increased within a relatively short number of years, he thought it would be important to help with its day-to-day operations. 

“You give what is needed,” said Culverhouse, who Wilson calls someone who has long been generous toward the church. “As the church grows, the need grows.”

Hugh Culverhouse Jr.

Located in the midst of downtown Sarasota, Church of the Redeemer is home to nearly 3,000 members and is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida and the Anglican Communion worldwide.

“Operate sounds really boring, but it's the heart of everything,” Wilson said, noting one of the benefits of the donation will be the ability to work on the church’s strategic plan. “We're clear on the mission; we need a roadmap.”

The gift will also aid in the construction of another church currently underway in the Dominican Republic.

Church of the Redeemer has been in a companion relationship with the diocese in the Dominican Republic, having sent multiple teams to the location, as well as having already built three churches there. 

In April, a team will be performing further preliminary assessment and construction bidding.

Culverhouse said he was motivated to give because of his belief in the importance of churches in a politically divided and arguing world. He said regardless of their political beliefs, members within a church form a community. 

“I would love to see other churches and temples look at their institution as a place of refuge, a place where you build a community and you can feel safe,” Culverhouse said.

“This is a safe place to drop anchor and be loved by God and neighbor, just as we love others in his name. And that's attractive,” Wilson said. “People saw that in the early church, and it exploded and went around the known world. And although we see it in decline in this country, the message is still exploding in far flung places.”

A news release said Church of the Redeemer contributed a record number of hours and dollars to outreach in 2023 and continues to do so this year, having awarded $70,000 in grants to nonprofits in December, offered grants to 80 public school teachers in January, and awarded $50,000 in Hurricane Ian relief to Senior Friendship Centers the week of Jan. 29.



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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