The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, March 1, at 2 pm., for a new, $3 million Program Center at DaySpring Episcopal Center, the diocese's 97-acre religious and conference center.
Designed by Fawley Bryant Architects and constructed by Willis Smith Construction, the 12,500-square-foot center will serve as DaySpring's primary facility for youth and adult programs, art and music recreation activities, retreats, teaching and worship.
The Rt. Rev. Dabney Tyler Smith, Bishop of the diocese, will preside over the groundbreaking ceremony, which will include representatives from the architectural and construction project team. Over 100 Episcopal priests from around the diocese will be in attendance, as well as Episcopalians from all corners of the diocese.
The new program center replaces an aging portable events building, and represents the first phase of a multi-phase, 10-year DaySpring master development plan, initiated in 2014. Two key amenities of the new center include a 5,000-square-foot multi-use recreation/meeting hall and a 2,000-square-foot pool alongside an outdoor pavilion. Construction for phase one is projected to be complete by fall 2016, with use of the program center to be underway by November. The master plan calls for two additional phases, which will include construction of a new worship center and residential facilities.
"The architectural design has an emphasis on attention and appreciation to the wildlife areas and nature paths enjoyed by visitors at DaySpring," said Jedd Heap, project architect.
Over 31,000 Episcopalians make up the Diocese of Southwest Florida. The 77 congregations and 12 Episcopal schools of the diocese include the cities of Sarasota, Bradenton, Ft. Myers, Plant City and Naples.
"DaySpring's original vision was to create a place to serve the spiritual growth and development of the people of God in the diocese," said Bishop Smith. "In just 35 years, the vision has been fulfilled and continues to unfold."
The Diocese and its DaySpring Development Committee are implementing the project through a three-part fund-raising plan, which is already under way through a reserve program funded by parishes. "A large portion of the funding for the Phase One project will be contributed by our 77 local churches," said Anne M. Vickers, canon for administration and chief financial officer for the Diocese, which represents over 30,000 active baptized members. "We are grateful for the participation and support of our diocesan community."