What do you do when the state takes possession of your church through eminent domain?
You pray to God for guidance, strength and a new direction, then wait for miracles. That is what Lakeside Fellowship United Methodist Church in Sanford did when their 16-year-old church and preschool became part of the state’s $56-million expansion of SR 429, the Wekiva Parkway.
The Florida Department of Transportation bought the church property for millions and instructed the church to find a new home so that the state could use the property in the Central Florida project to create a beltway to protect the Wekiva River.
“We sought God in every step of the way,” said Lisa Antonik, the communications coordinator for the church.
Lakeside did find their miracle: a 10-acre site they could purchase and on which to build a new church and preschool. The owners of the 10-acre site had been praying to God for someone to buy their property for His purpose, said Antonik, who is also the manager of the construction project.
|The ground-breaking ceremony for Lakeside’s new church was held on April 24.|
The purchase money from the state will nearly pay for the land, construction and move, so Lakeside—which raises just under $400,000 a year and has an average attendance of about 200, will only need a small mortgage, Antonik said.
They will be able to increase the church facility’s size by 5,000 square feet. Their current building houses their church operations, sanctuary and preschool for 80 children and the new one will, too. They are adding a cafe and adult classrooms, and the sanctuary will seat 400 people.
“It’s a blessing,” Antonik said. The church is now seeing this as an opportunity.
Pastor Cameron Lashbrook of Lakeside recently wrote to his congregation:
“We are building on a great location with frontage on State Road 46 where we have an even greater opportunity to reach our community with the love of Jesus Christ! And, yes, it means God is inviting us to change! With God’s Spirit and our efforts to reach and serve our community, Lakeside will grow. As we grow, God will require us to be more attentive to welcoming strangers as friends and to be sure to help new people get connected into the life of the church. Many of you already look for new people to welcome, and I’m proud of you for showing God’s love! “
The church held a ground-breaking ceremony at the new site at 121 N. Henderson Lane in Sanford on April 24. Antonik said the ceremony was wonderful and more than 140 people came. They expect the construction to be complete by June of 2017, just in time to start a new school year at the preschool.
“It’s not always a smooth process” to build a new facility especially under the conditions they faced, she said. “But, we kept the faith and moved forward. It has been really cool to see God at work.”For more information about Lakeside Fellowship, please go to their website at http://lakesidefellowship.org/ or visit their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lakesidefellowshipumc/