1995: SunCoast Cathedral MCC Founded
SunCoast Cathedral MCC was founded by Rev. Sherry Kennedy. In February 1995, approximately 78 people (including Southeast District Coordinator, Reverend Judy Davenport) gathered in the Garden Room at the Days Inn in Venice, FL to lay plans for a new church in the greater Venice/Port Charlotte area. We rented space there initially and like “spiritual bag people” we packed and unpacked the church every Sunday. We shared the vision of purchasing land and facilities in order to become a multifaceted ministry center. In April when the church was only two and a half months old, a handful of people began negotiations on the present five-acre property with a 10,000 square foot building and concrete block garage on it. Undaunted by a price tag in excess of $500,000, we offered $300,000 and by mid-August, we had raised the $100,000 down payment.
The location was ideal, only five minutes from I-75, convenient from either Exit 191 or 193. The large building, although vacant for 2 years, had housed an independent Full Gospel church so many amenities were included in the sale: padded oak pews and chairs, oak pulpit and altar, musical instruments, a soundboard and even Choir robes! The sanctuary had auditorium type seating for 400 plus.
We began to fix up the large building and made it our “spiritual “home. The Opening Worship in the new building was held just two days before the congregation’s seven-month anniversary! Over two hundred people attended that day to proclaim the faithfulness of God who had provided marvelously for the needs of God’s wilderness people.
1996-2016 SunCoast MCC Celebrated Many Successes and 30 Years of Rev. Kennedy’s Ministry
The years from 1996 to 2000 were years of fine-tuning, refining and growing deeper in our faith. We developed and launched many ministries in education, congregational care, and outreach.
In 2001, Tropical Storm Gabrielle ushered in a new set of challenges including the loss of our main building to toxic mold. We looked to the northern end of our campus to the old garage which had housed our lawn equipment. Although it was in very shabby condition, a committed group of men and women set about to renovate it into a quaint, beautiful Chapel.
The sanctuary of the main building was closed down in June 2002. The move to the smaller space meant we needed to go to two worship services on Sunday mornings. We added a deck covered by a pavilion for overflow space and to provide a place for Fellowship and gathering before and after services. We continued to use the lobby, offices and restrooms of the old building as long as we could but had to vacate totally by mid-2003. At that time, we purchased a modular building for office/meeting space.
We spent three years dealing with our Insurance Company and after mediation; we were awarded less than half of the funds needed to demolish the old building. In 2006, we unveiled the “Readiness to Rebuild Campaign” and within a couple of weeks had the $70,000 required for demolition. Within a few months, the main building was gone and we were gearing up to think about rebuilding.
In 2007, we engaged the services of Generis, Inc. to lead us in a capital campaign, “Let Us Arise & Rebuild” (inspired by Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem). We hired a builder, engineer and site developer and embarked on the journey that has brought us to this place. The foundation was poured [containing our “Foundational Scriptures” stones] and the new facility began taking shape. Despite countless delays and setbacks, this faithful congregation has stood firm and we look to the future with great faith and enthusiasm as God continues to bless us and to open doors for our work in this area and beyond.
In 2014, Rev. Sherry Kennedy celebrated 30 years in ministry. In 2015, SunCoast MCC celebrated its 20th anniversary. In the Spring of 2015, with the passing of our founding Pastor, Rev. Dr. Sherry Kennedy, we continued our journey. Rev. Vickie Miller became our GAP Pastor, followed by Rev. Gina Durbin, as our Interim Pastor.
2017- Present: SunCoast MCC Continues to Expand Community Presence under Rev. Miller’s and Rev. Wilson’s Ministry
On March 19th, 2017, after an extensive search by our Pastoral Search Team, our members elected Rev. Vickie Miller, and Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, as our Senior Pastors.
On June 17, 2017, we gathered for a Congregational Retreat. During our time of healing, decision-making and dreaming, feedback was provided by those attending on the proposed Vision and Mission Statements for SunCoast MCC. Following a period of prayer and discernment, the team charged to work on the Vision and Mission statements met to consider the feedback received. After their thoughtful review and discussion, the statements were presented and eventually at the February 2018 Congregational Meeting approved.
In November of 2018, SunCoast MCC sponsored the first inaugural Venice Pride event on church grounds. This event had 40 vendors and more than 500 attendees. It included entertainment, visits by local politicians and a pet blessing.