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Rendering of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which seeks approval of a new sanctuary in Lake Mary.
Rendering of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which seeks approval of a new sanctuary in Lake Mary. (St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lake Mary)

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lake Mary will double its seating capacity with a new sanctuary the church hopes to have completed by Easter, 2018.

The new 10,000-square-foot building will rise at its current address on 700 Rinehart Road, but closer to the busy street, giving the church more exposure, according to St. Peter's rector, the Rev. Charlie Holt. That exposure will be enhanced with a 100-foot-tall steeple.

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"The main goal is to reach out to the community and have something that is more of a beacon, what we call a church on a hill," Holt said. "That's been a long-time vision of the people who founded this church about 31 years ago."

Church leaders and Lake Mary planning and zoning officials will go over the site plan for the building on Aug. 10. Holt said the city has mostly approved the site but still has to OK the steeple.

Leesburg architect John Dickerson, who specializes in ecclesiastical architecture, is designing the new church. Holt said no contractors or other building professionals have been hired yet.

The church will be a wood gothic design, Dickerson said, giving it a similar aura to classical Episcopal churches of the past.

"The main structure is all going to be wood," Dickerson said, "and between the wood arches (in the ceiling) we will have tongue and groove to reflect the interior of the wood."

A metal exterior roof will add aesthetics, durability and the strength to withstand heavy winds. Energy efficiency, including LED lighting, will also be an important component of the design, Dickerson said.

The new building will have seating for 400 congregants, twice as many as in the current church building. The seats will wrap around the chancel so congregants can sit as close to the priest as possible.

The church will also include a chapel open to the public throughout the day, and not just on Sundays.

"It's a place for the world to come in and meet the Lord and be in his presence to lift up prayer requests, thanksgiving for blessings we receive in our lives, or take the hard times, the broken hearts, to the Lord for help," Holt said.

The church has budgeted $2.5 million for the project and has already raised 60 percent of that amount through pledges by parishioners.

"We would love to build it without debt. Debt is a kind of tough thing to retire with churches," Holt said. "We would love to build it with pledges from the church and friends of St. Peter's. That's what we're praying for."

St. Peter's currently has two larger buildings totaling 3,156 square feet on the 5.8-acre parcel, along with a smaller wooden utility building. The church will continue to use those buildings after the new sanctuary is built, said Loren Williams, director of communications for the church.

Mike Salinaro can be reached at msalinero@outlook.com.

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