Mega-church prepares for first service in Lakewood Ranch

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A crew of workers were hard at work Wednesday inside Faith Life Church of Sarasota, preparing the facility for the first service 10 a.m. Feb. 5. It could become home to one of the largest congregations in the Manatee-Sarasota area.

Faith Life Church of Sarasota is a “sister church” of mega-church Faith Life Church of Branson, Mo.

The church is in an 82,000-square-foot building, formerly occupied by Teleflex at 6980 Professional Parkway East in Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park.

The new church has received its certificate of occupancy and will open with 2,500 seats.

“We aren’t expecting that many people to be here but that’s how many seats we have,” said Dave Vaughan, a member of the church staff.

It’s anticipated that Pastor Keith Moore, who founded Faith Life Church of Branson, Mo., a decade ago with his wife, Phyllis Moore, will present the first message.

“It’s been a lot of work. We have had a good time doing it, but it’s been a lot of work,” Vaughan said Wednesday.

The church paid $4.2 million for Teleflex property and $2.2 million for a seven-bedroom, seven-bath home with horse stables at Lakewood Ranch, the Herald previously reported.

The Moores moved from Broken Arrow, Okla., to Branson, and purchased the Yellow Ribbon Theater and held the first evening service March 29, 2002, according to the church website.

Eventually, Friday services are planned for the Lakewood Ranch campus as well, Vaughan said.

In 2007, the Branson church moved into the former Remington Theatre, on the strip in Branson, giving it more space, according to the church website.

The Lakewood Ranch location was chosen by the Moores “after a couple of years seeking the Lord, they concluded they are to start a sister church in Sarasota,”

“Keith and Phyllis Moore felt directed by the Lord that they must preach the Word to other cities because they are sent. He admonished us to ‘Go where you’re sent, and stay where you’re stationed,’” the website says.

To pay for the Lakewood Ranch building and renovations, the church started a fundraiser in October 2010 called “Paid N Full.” The project, to fund 2,500 seats at $2,000 each, is 66.39 percent toward its goal, according to the website.

To date, 1,659 seats have been paid for.

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