In the spring of 1993, two Catholics, three agnostics, one Jew, one New-Ager, one materialist and four evangelicals formed a group to examine the claims of Jesus Christ. God touched each life in that group in a very personal way, and within six months, everyone had committed their life to Christ.
At the same time God was working on a handful of others who were praying about starting a new church, one that reached out with the love of Christ to those who did not normally "do church." Jeff and JoLynne Wilson were a part of both groups. After months of seeking God's direction, it became quite clear that God had a plan bigger than any one person could have imagined.
The two groups came together and Jeff Wilson became the founding pastor. The first services were held in the home of Anne and Monte Marshall. The church quickly became too large to continue meeting in a private home.
South Shore Community Church held its first Sunday service in February 1994 at Pine View School for the Gifted in south Sarasota. During these early years, growth was steady at Pine View, creating a solid group of believers committed to the purpose of helping people find and follow Jesus Christ. As a result of meeting in a school theater, South Shore developed a reputation for being a different style of church.
The five year agreement with Pine View came to a close and South Shore began to look for a new venue.
Churches meeting in schools and having Saturday night services are now considered common for new church starts. But in May of 1999, South Shore Community Church took a bold step by moving its worship service to Saturday nights at the First Church of the Nazarene on Fruitville Road.
With much prayer and commitment, the family of South Shore embraced this change. The Saturday night format opened up unique opportunities to reach people in unexpected ways and appealed to many people in the community who were seeking something different.
South Shore moved to Sarasota Alliance Church (east of I-75 on Bee Ridge Road) in October of 2004 with a parade of balloons and decorated vehicles leading the way. Continuing with the Saturday night format, the church easily moved into its new setting. During this season, South Shore tried many new adventures in helping people find and follow Jesus Christ through events like Easter at Twin Lakes Park and new ministry programs like Kidz Own Clubhouse.
On March 16, 2008, one of the most significant moves in South Shore’s history occurred when Gateway Community Church located on Tuttle Avenue. This added a second campus with a Sunday morning venue. For the rest of the year, South Shore had two options, Saturday nights at the Alliance location and Sundays at the Tuttle location.
South Shore's heart to love on the community was matched by its next location when in 2009 we moved to one location on Tuttle Avenue in the heart of the Arlington Park neighborhood. With the success of the Commission Campaign, South Shore became a debt free church and strives to continue to steward well all finances.
South Shore is uniquely positioned as a "local church with a heart for the community.”
As the people of God discover their purpose, we make a difference. South Shore continues to have a hand in launching ministries like the Sarasota Pregnancy Center in the early days to the first Day of Hope (now HopeKids) as well as continue to be involved with those right outside our doors with Be Love Reach.
South Shore Community Church exists to Be in community while we Love and Reach our surrounding neighborhood for Christ. Throughout our journey, God has been faithful to us and we continue to seek to be faithful to Him as together, we help people find and follow Jesus Christ.
Thank you for reading our past and present story. We hope you will be a part of our future!