In 1993 a group of men and woman passionate about reaching Sarasota with the Gospel of Jesus Christ started a church in the theatre at Parkway Cinema 8. Led by her founding Pastor Dave Sturkey, Cornerstone quickly earned a reputation as a church for the unchurched. It wasn’t long before they outgrew that space. As the leadership sought God’s guidance for a permanent home for this burgeoning family of Jesus, a new master planned community called Lakewood Ranch broke ground.
Fast forward to 2002: the leadership decided to move out to the country and build a church. For just under $100,000, eight acres were purchased at the intersection of two dirt roads and a cow pasture (now called Lorraine and University).
By 2010 15,000 residents would call LWR home. That same year Cornerstone expanded her footprint to accommodate growth with the addition of a new building including a welcome center, children’s wing, playground and an unfinished worship center spacious enough for over 600 people. That same year Pastor Sturkey resigned. It was a pivotal loss to the momentum of the church’s vision, as it would take more than three years to find a new pastor.
In the fall of 2013, Cornerstone hired her second Pastor, Philip Woods, to refocus the original church planting vision to reach the unchurched and dechurched in Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding communities. As with all stories, our church has gone through its ups and downs and yet we continue to see God’s provision for his church. In 2019 we finished a build out and space refresh to meet the needs of our growing community.
Today LWR has 43,000 residents—and growing. It is the #1 multi-generational community in the U.S. for four years running. As our church has gone through its ups and downs, we are finally seeing stability and growth. We are now home to many long-time Christians and new Christians, and we are seeing many church attenders take hold of the Gospel in their own hearts for the first time. Some who never thought they would darken the doors of a church are now growing, thriving, and enjoying this community. We are seeing the vision of reaching Lakewood Ranch and beyond begin to move forward. People come to Cornerstone from all walks of life and experience the freedom and grace that Christ offers. It is powerful and life changing. We are thrilled and humbled at what God is doing amongst his people here at Cornerstone.
We hope our story will become your story, too.