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Grace Episcopal Church readies expansion in Tampa Palms

NEW TAMPA — Grace Episcopal Church will soon expand its Tampa Palms location to include a Gothic sanctuary building and an event venue.

The church recently presented its plan, titled the Amazing Grace Project, which aims to create a property more beneficial to the community.

Grace Episcopal opened in 1996 to serve the developing area of Tampa Palms.

The church began services in its worship hall with plans to build a sanctuary, but financial strains delayed the construction.

Today, after selling a corner of its property for $4 million as part of a Bruce B. Downs Boulevard expansion, the church is debt free.

The church expansion will feature a new 70-foot bell tower, whose base will function as an event hall and an outdoor wedding pavilion. The church looks forward to rededicating itself to the people of Tampa Palms, said Warren Sponsler, warden of Grace Episcopal.

"Initially we were supposed to be a community church," Spons­ler said. "We kind of got away from that. It's important the community have a church it can use for life's important milestones."

The church anticipates a groundbreaking by mid 2017 and completion in early 2018. A capital fundraising campaign will begin in January.

The church will join others such as Bell Shoals Baptist in Brandon and Idlewild in North Tampa that offer community event space.

The Rev. Canon Benjamin Twinamaani serves as first rector at Grace Episcopal. The church offers traditional worship at 8 a.m. and contemporary worship at 10 a.m. Sundays.

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