While it’s a long way from having the permanent worship space and congregation it intends to have, the Episcopal Church has found an initial home at a business park in Wesley Chapel.
The church, at 3758 Maryweather Lane in Wesley Chapel, is now having monthly meetings on the second Wednesday of the month, which begins with evening prayer at 6:30 p.m., and then is followed by a core group meeting.
It currently has four core group members, but needs a dozen to create the various teams needed to launch the church, said the Rev. Adrienne Hymes, whose official title is Diocesan Missioner for Church Extension.
The core group is focusing on the areas of theological and spiritual formation; discipleship, evangelism and mission. Efforts continue to recruit additional core group members.
Members of that group need to be people with vision — who can see things that are not yet there, Hymes said.
While much work remains to be done, Hymes is encouraged by the progress so far.
“The Holy Spirt has really been active in this ministry,” she said. “It (the church planting) is moving faster than the plan on paper.”
The church is planning a soft launch in June, when it will transition to weekly Wednesday evening prayer meetings and core group meetings. It also will begin Sunday 9 a.m. services.
The hope is for an official launch of the church in November, Hymes said.
The church opened at its current location during the week of Ash Wednesday, allowing it to have its first Ash Wednesday service there. Fourteen people attended.
These milestones are important, Hymes said, noting they provide encouragement to the people who are working to help establish the Episcopal Church in Wesley Chapel.
Hymes said she knows there is a need for the church in the community.
“There are Episcopalians here. They don’t want to drive. They want to go to church where they live,” she said.
She also knows that having a church in Wesley Chapel makes it possible for people to be more involved in their community.
“Discipleship is determined by distance,” she said. She said she’s heard from Episcopalians, “‘Yeah, we’d love Sunday service, but I’d also like to be able to do Bible Study during the week. I also want to be able to learn more about the Book of Common Prayer during the week,’” she said.
But, that’s difficult to do, if your church is 20 miles away, she said.
When people reach out to her to let her know that they’re interested in attending an Episcopal Church in Wesley Chapel, she makes it clear that this church is still in its formative stages.
She tells people when they come: “Don’t have any expectations other than: ‘We’re here to be present for God’s people.’”
Some things that need to be done before the church can have a formal launch include coming up with a name for the church, establishing child care provisions and setting up its music program, Hymes said.
While the church continues to plan and work toward its future, it continues moving forward.
For instance, it is hosting a six-week Lenten Series, which began on Feb. 21 and concludes on March 28.
The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, which has 77 churches, has been wanting to establish a presence in Wesley Chapel for many years.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the Lenten Series being hosted by the Episcopal Church in Wesley Chapel.
The sessions begin with a simple supper at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The next two sessions will be led by Brother Eric Mukasa, a former Benedictine Monk:
Feb. 28: Christian Charity
March 7: Ministering with Meaning
The last three sessions will be led by The Rev. Adrienne Hymes
March 14: Developing Your Spiritual Toolbox
March 21: Practicing Theological Reflection
March 28: Pastoral Care for the Faith Community
Published February 28, 2018