From our beginning in 1944, the dream has been to have a place on the beaches that lets our community know, “God is here!” We are convinced that God’s desire is for everyone to have an opportunity to know and experience His salvation & new life! This is the foundation for our purpose & mission.
Our Purpose is Simple
Helping People Follow Jesus
Our vision is to create a church where...
- unchurched people love to attend
- people who are new to the faith are growing
- people who are established in the faith serving
- all are discovering the freedom & joy that comes from loving God & loving others
Our Mission is Unique
Reach the Beach ~ Change the World
Having a beach church on the Gulf coast of central Florida gives us a unique setting.
- the culture is casual and attitude is laid-back
- our area is known for its beauty & recreation - enjoying the beaches, fishing, paddle boarding, golfing
- many of our residents live here only 4-6 months of the year, during our winter months
- tourists from around the world visit our area & beaches everyday
Though ever church has a responsibility to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), we have discovered that people from the nations come to our area! We are everyday missionaries and we get to do that in one of the most beautiful places on earth!
1. About God
God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three personalities: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
Genesis 1:1,26-27, 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2
2. About You
You are made in the spiritual image of God, to be like Him in character. You are the supreme object of God’s creation and love. Although you have tremendous potential for good, you are marred by an attitude of disobedience towards God called "sin." This attitude separates you from God until the relationship is restored through a personal choice and allegiance to Jesus Christ as one’s Savior and Lord.
Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Isaiah 53:6a; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:1-2
Rev. Philip H. Ralph, a retired Congregational minister, came to St. Petersburg to spend the winter of 1943-1944. An acquaintance called his attention to the need for some kind of religious service on the Gulf Beaches. Mr. Ralph agreed to undertake a survey of local residents and visitors. When he found how great the opportunity was, he moved to the beaches and gave his whole time to planting a new church.
Previous to 1944, there was no Protestant church on the beaches with the exception of the one at the extreme south end of Pass-a-Grille. In February of that year, following a careful survey, they began worship services in the Fishermen’s Union hall.
This building, situated just south of John’s Pass, had been built for a retail store. A small salesroom occupied the front of the building, and the storeroom in the back was turned into a meeting room. It was equipped with some benches without backs and a few chairs. When it rained, people would have to move to avoid the water that dripped through the defective roof. More used chairs and an old piano were brought from a discontinued mission in Tampa.
It was there, on the first Sunday of February, 1944, about 20 adults came for a church service, bringing with them about the same number of children for Sunday School. The next Sunday, attendance more than doubled, and it was not long before the room was so crowded that some of the classes would meet out-of-doors, weather permitting.
Many who attended these services were tourists. While the need of the tourists was recognized, and their help in the church was greatly appreciated, no attempt was made to organize into an official church until the tourists had left for the summer. They knew that the ultimate success of the church would depend on the permanent residents of the community.
an official organization...
In May, the question to establish a church was brought up for consideration. The organizational documents were completed and officers elected on June 25, 1944. The articles of incorporation were recorded four months later, on November 3, 1944. In four years, on September 1, 1948, Rev. Robbins Ralph came from a successful pastorate in New England to join his father at The Church by the Sea.
Today, The Church by the Sea, envisioned by that small band of believers, is the centerpiece of the ministry proclaiming Christ to the Gulf Beaches. The Sunday School, that began with just a score of children, has lovingly shared the Lord Jesus Christ with their children, their grandchildren and even generations beyond! God has blessed this church family for 74 years!