Work has begun on the new Orlando West Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Horizon West.
The church, located at 16769 Davenport Road, will serve the Horizon West area, as well as members from Orange, Lake and Polk counties.
Church leaders, local government leaders and distinguished guests all were present at a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, March 19. Keynote speakers for the event included Lorna Rhinehart, member and community resident; Wade L. Lowe, member and second counselor of the Orlando Florida West Stake Presidency; and Gary D. Hansen, member and president of the Orlando Florida West Stake Presidency.
Rhinehart gave an emotional speech, talking about how her family moved to the community in 1999 and has lived, worked and served in the Horizon West area.
“We have given and been recipients of many hours of service from our neighbors,” she said. “(Because) all of the people in our community are our neighbors, this church building can help facilitate us as neighbors helping and serving each other.”
The new building is 17,171 square feet and has a conference capacity of 576. However, each congregation attendance averages 150 members, with a few congregations meeting at different times each Sunday.
The chapel will serve as the Stake Center for the Orlando Florida West Stake, which currently has more than 3,500 members organized in nine wards and one branch, teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the English, Spanish and Mandarin languages.
Although the church is generally used for Sunday services and weekly youth activities, the building also will provide a meeting space for community and area service opportunities hosted by the congregations.
The building will provide a chapel for Sunday worship services, relief society meeting rooms for women, young women and young men meeting rooms for weekly activities ages 12 to 18, primary rooms for services and activities with children ages 1 to 11, and leader and clergy offices.
The new Horizon West church will join several Latter-day Saints chapels in Central Florida, including Ocoee, Davenport, Bumby, St. Cloud, Winter Park, Lake Mary, Leesburg, Clermont and Windermere. In addition, the Orlando Temple is located on Apopka-Vineland Road.
Lowe said he has never traveled fewer than 20 to 25 minutes to get to church since moving to the Winter Garden area in 1987. Now, he will travel only a few minutes.
“I remember when this was all dirt,” he said. “This is my home. I tell you this to let you know how emotional it is to have a building and a gathering place in Winter Garden where my family can worship and practice our religion. This building is indeed a miracle and a blessing to my family and many others.”
Services for the new church will be held Sundays beginning in 2023.