ENGLEWOOD — Grace Community Church no longer has to share a building now that it has a spacious new home just two miles away.
Congregants like Dick Partridge and Linda Abend are among those who have a new reason to feel blessed now that they don’t have to worry about being crowded and finding a place to park.
The church moved from 406 N. Indiana Ave. to 1160 S. McCall Road and held its first service there on April 21.
“We had 65 attendees,” Partridge said. “Most we (ever) had in the old building was 54.”
Partridge, a Venice resident, said the old location was constricting because the parking lot was shared with Goodwill.
“Now we have more than enough parking,” he said.
The new church is located next door to Michael Saunders & Company Real Estate just north of Beach Road on State Road 776.
“We were sad to leave our old landlord (James Knapp), but felt it was time to move on since we outgrew the old place,” said Grace Community Church Pastor Ryan Austie. “We had a building search committee a year ago. We had a deal in place for another building, but (in retrospect), I’m glad this current building worked out more than we imagined. The new location is more central to the town whereas the last location was more north.”
Austie, a Rotonda resident, said the new location was home to at least three businesses before the church moved in.
It also served as the Charlotte County Republican Party campaign office during the 2012 election.
“The old church was at a shopping mall,” said Martie Halas, an Englewood resident. “It was small, sort of bursting out at the seams.”
Halas said she visited the old church years ago, then attended a service on April 21 at the new location.
“The warmness of the people stood out to me,” Halas said. “It was a joyous day. So much in the world that’s going on is negative. Going to the church helped give me a clear head and I plan to go next Sunday.”
Abend, an Englewood resident, said members had to rearrange the sanctuary in order to hold functions like potluck meals at the previous location, but the extra rooms at the new location make it more convenient.
“We have a separate dining area,” Abend said. “The church can also accommodate a nursery and Sunday school rooms.”
Austie said the new church has 600 more square feet.
“That (old) place was great, but the new place is so much better,” Partridge said. “There’s a lot more potential in this.”
Austie said there is still work to do.
“We’re well set in the church and we’re putting the finishing touches,” he said. “It’s probably 95 to 99 percent finished. We’re doing final arranging.”
For more information on Grace Community Church, call 941-460-0436.