Lakeside Lutheran Church was started by two Lutheran congregations in Venice and Englewood as a “drive-in” church on Sunday, July 18, 1954, with 48 people in attendance. Members would remain in their cars and listen to the service through a public address system. The name Lakeside was selected because of a small body of water located on the property near South Tamiami Trail which was later filled in with the expansion of Highway 41 in 1969.
The first Sunday School session was held on Aug. 1, 1954, with seven pupils in attendance. The students and their teacher met under the trees following the Drive-In service. The first communion service was held on Aug. 8, with 10 persons communing. A Ladies Aid group was organized in 1955, which later became the Women’s Guild. Women were able to vote starting in December 1965.
By the late 1970s, the congregation had doubled in size and was able to establish a daughter congregation in Englewood, Redeemer Lutheran Church. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the present sanctuary, which can accommodate 500 worshipers, were in 1981. Throughout the years, additional buildings have been added to Lakeside’s Campus, including the Preschool Building, Meyer Hall where the contemporary service is held from October through May, and the Children and Youth Building.
The Rev. Melvin Meyer served the congregation as pastor from 1955 to 1968, followed by the Rev. Walter Holzheimer from 1969 to 1991, and the Rev. Randy Winkel from 1992-2017.