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Growing Church Expands without Taking up More Green Space

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.—Peace River Baptist Church celebrated a ground-breaking. An expanded parking lot and a new commercial-grade kitchen will be added to the current facilities.

The church has grown so much in the past two years, adding 100 new members, that its auditorium, which seats 300, isn’t big enough for everyone. Pastor Jim Stultz says, “We are a typical Florida church. In the wintertime, we’re four hundred. In the summertime we’re two hundred—it’s the snowbird factor. We have to go to two services in the wintertime (December–April). So the Lord is blessing, and we’re expanding. With our growing congregation, we haven’t had enough parking.”

The second part of the $400,000 expansion is the kitchen. “A lot of Florida churches, I’ve noticed, don’t have very big kitchens,” says Pastor Stultz. “I think maybe when the retirees moved down here, they were done cooking. Our existing kitchen has a sink and two microwaves. You can’t get many people in there. So we wanted to have more opportunity for outreach ministries and for our own expanding congregation.”

Expanding the kitchen is no little project. “We are very much landlocked,” says Pastor Stultz, so the church cannot add any new buildings. He says, “Because we are taking an existing handicap slab that’s already got concrete down and putting the kitchen on that, we’re not taking any more green space.”

With so much happening at the church, Pastor Stultz says, “other things are going to be coming up—other expansion things—but these we felt we needed to do first.”

Caption: Pastor Jim Stultz (second from left) and the congregation rejoice in the Lord’s blessing on the church.