Grace Community of Wesley Chapel has completed its master site plan and a conceptual floor plan for the first phase of its main church campus, but it must raise additional funds before commencing construction.
The proposed 7,760-square-foot building will seat up to 200 worshippers, and will be constructed on a site of about 20 acres on Boyette Road, just south of Wesley Chapel District Park, said Pastor Jeff Olsen.
The property was acquired by the church in April 2014.
The church also will provide ample room for a full children’s program on Sunday mornings, and will host a Christian preschool and other programs during the week.
Dykes-Johnson Architects, of Brandon, designed the structure, which features a large cross in the middle of a glass entryway that will lead into the main gathering area.
Future phases have been planned, so the church will be able to grow along with the community surrounding it, Olsen said.
There will be space for fellowship events, outreach ministries, and recreation.
Plans call for a community park that would serve as a place not only for the church’s congregation, but also would be available for neighborhood use.
The building project’s theme is “Reaching Beyond Ourselves,” which reflects the desire to extend God’s love beyond the church walls and to make a difference in the local community, Olsen said.
The project is expected to cost about $1.2 million, in addition to the $430,000 the church already paid to secure the land.
The congregation currently meets at Wesley Chapel Elementary School, 30243 Wells Road, so its new home will be close by.
Its worship service includes traditional and contemporary Christian music, a Biblical message, and an interactive children’s program it calls “Grace Harbor” for children, from 3 months old to age 11.
Finding the site for the church was no simple feat, said Olsen, who has led Grace Community since its inception in April 2006.
Grace Community initially met at Kids R Kids preschool in Meadow Pointe, then moved to Wiregrass Ranch High School and now meets at Wesley Chapel Elementary.
“The hardest thing in a growing area, believe it or not, is finding places to meet,” Olsen said. “We asked 25 different places if we could meet,” he said, including restaurants, clubhouses and schools.
Although meeting in a temporary space has served the church, there was a desire to find a permanent home.
“Portable church — you know, setting up, taking down — is a great way to connect with people. You focus on ministry, outreach, community, in the early years. But over time, it creates some fatigue and some limits for growth,” Olsen said.
“So, we felt in order to set up something that was healthy and fruitful for the future, that we would look for a property.
“Boy, was that hard,” Olsen said.
The church began by praying for a new place to call home.
“We virtually canvassed every available plot,” the pastor said. “We had a 20-point checklist.
“This is what we want.: Ingress and egress. All utilities. No flood zones. High and dry. Clear and ready to build.
“This was the only one (site). We had looked for years and never found even five good acres on a paved road in Wesley Chapel.
“We held a prayer tour, where we went and prayed at various locations within the community, asking God, if he wanted our ministry to focus in a particular area that we would find a location.
“We prayed for property near the PHSC (Pasco-Hernando State College Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch) property, if God wanted us to do college ministry.
“We prayed for property in Meadow Pointe, if God wanted us to do residential. We prayed for property on (State Road) 54, where there would be kind of the business (focus). I was involved in the chamber of commerce.
“And then we prayed for property up in the Wells Road and Boyette, where there were schools and a park,” Olsen said.
“That was the door that God opened. We prayed over a broad group of properties, and it was where we were meant to be,” Olsen said.
“We prayed. God provided a contract. We need to get it in cash. On our last day, we received $41,000, on the last day before we had to opt out,” Olsen said.
The building committee has cleared old agricultural fences and made the property usable.
“We’ve had prayer meetings. We’ve had some sports activities out there,” Olsen said.
The church hopes to raise $850,000 by Jan. 6, which is Epiphany, in order to have the first phase of the church ready for use by next fall.
“If we don’t have the money, we wait. If we have the money, we move forward.
“God is preparing a place for us, and he’s also preparing us for the place,” Olsen said.
For more information, call Pastor Jeff Olsen at (813) 994-9363, or visit ExploreGrace.com.
Published October 7, 2015