The idea of starting a church in Bonita Springs had always intrigued founding pastor John Anderson. From the late ‘80s Pastor Anderson had toyed with the idea. He was even asked to start a church in Bonita as early as 2000, but the timing never quite worked out. In the Fall of 2004, Pastor Anderson believed that God’s timing was now right and he attended the PCA’s Assessment Center to gain denominational approval for the work in Bonita Springs. The Assessment Center was held in February of ’05 and by the time he had finished, a place had opened for him to begin the work in Bonita.
On February 27 of 2005, Bay Fellowship started its first Sunday morning Bible study – 10 people attended. By Easter time that year, the ranks had swelled to 18 people! It was determined by that core group that if it was going to go anywhere, we needed to find a permanent location rather than Dave Young’s living room. In April of ’05, the Florida Sun Coast Presbytery gave its approval to begin as a church and all of the organizational and financial processes began. Our first communion was held in the middle of April of ’05.
When Pastor Anderson began to look for places to meet, he looked into 13 different locations. Among them, the Moose Lodge, the Elk’s Lodge, the dance hall at Limetree Mobil Home Park, the 7th Day Adventist Church and several rental properties. None of them were suitable geographically, financially or strategically, so other accommodations were pursued. Pastor Anderson finally took a check and went to the Trianon Hotel hoping to tie up their meeting room – where another church had started a few years before. The Sales Manager had gone on vacation and was not available, so frustrated, Pastor Anderson drove around to eh building adjacent (where he had been told – forget about ever meeting there) and he prayed for God’s direction. That afternoon, we received word that the owner of that building wanted us to meet with some of his people. We were eager to comply. The next day Bay PCA came away with an agreement to use the building (that had been the sales center for Bonita Bay) with no rent payments, no utilities payment for an undetermined period of time. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!! The growth of Bay hasn’t yet stopped – three years later. Our first Easter as a church, we had 18 people, the next Easter we had 206 and by Easter of 2008 there were 319 people in attendance for Easter services.
Solo Gloria Dei