History of New Day Christian Church:
A New Church in a New City
On August 9, 1959, the first service of the First Christian Church of Port Charlotte was held in the home of Mrs. Margaret Martin with 19 members present. Brother Eric Dance from First Christian Church of Fort Myers agreed to sponsor the church and invited members from a small group of believers from Punta Gorda who had been worshiping in the Boys and Girls Club to come together into one membership. He knew that if this group could work together and build a church within one year, General Development who had plotted out vast amounts of Charlotte County, would deed the property at Gibraltar and Easy Street to them. Weekly services were held in the home until September 6 when 41 were present. They out grew this home and moved services to the Women’s Club in Punta Gorda.
On November 29, 1959, Pastor Harry Thomas and his wife Minerva accepted the call to lead this new church. By January 1, 1960, the congregation had $2,511 in the bank, which was matched by Fort Myers Christian Church.
Fifty names were affixed to the church’s charter and it was incorporated under the laws of Florida on January 10, 1960. On Sunday afternoon, January 31, the deed to the property was presented free and clear to Pastor Harry Thomas followed by ground breaking.
The first service was held on April 17, 1960. The original structure was the sole building of worship, offices and Bible study, and was quickly outgrown. In 1962 a free standing addition called the Fellowship Hall was built. In 1965, an Education Building was annexed to the Fellowship Hall. A parsonage was purchased for the pastor and his family. By 1967 there were 515 members, with services including Sunday morning and evening worship, Wednesday evening service, Bible Studies and a school for the children. In the summer of 1967 Pastor Thomas retired.
1968-1980: New Decade, New Challenges
Brother Coleman T. Sparrow (1968-1980) and his wife, Judith answered the call to become Senior Pastor. On February 4, 1968 Pastor Sparrow preached his first sermon at First Christian Church of Port Charlotte.
As the church grew, there was a need for more office space, classrooms and a larger sanctuary as the original building of 1960 was overcrowded. A new office complex and foyer were added to the front of the building. The cost of the remodel was only for materials because the volunteer members brought not only their faith in the Lord, but also their lifetime skills as electricians, plumbers, masons, engineers, carpenters and painters.
By the autumn of 1974 the structure that housed the sanctuary was completed and seated 600 people. A formal dedication was held on November 3, 1974. Pastor Coleman Sparrow continued to lead his flock until he retired in the summer of 1980.
1980-1992: God Continues to Work Within Us
After Pastor Sparrows’ retirement, Minister Barry L. Cameron accepted the call to become the third pastor in August 1980. He and his wife, Janis, and their two children became part of our family and would stay 12 years. He preached his first sermon on October 19, 1980. Attendance averaged 190 on Sunday mornings. The church began to grow in new baptisms and increased membership.
By spring of 1981, the church has a full time secretary, music director and in June of that year, a full time Associate Pastor, Scott Reinemeyer and Youth Pastor, Fred Turner were added. In August the church’s first building was completely remodeled into a multi purpose building, office complex and nursery. In 1982 Camp Glory, an after school/summer youth program was started.
1983-1992: Amazing Grace…and Growth
By 1983 Sunday morning worship attendance was 326. Since October of 1980 the church had averaged over 150 additional members a year with two thirds of them being baptized. New ministries were started such as Christian Women’s Fellowship and Primetimers.
In the latter part of 1983 and early 1984, church leaders began to explore options for more space. A major giving campaign, “Upon This Rock” was kicked off in spring of 1984. The campaign slogan was “Not Equal Giving, But Equal Sacrifice” and it was a success. Construction began in March of 1985 and by November of that year it was finished and gave this still-growing church some needed space and time to catch its breath. The membership by this time reached 428.
Because of continued growth, in 1990 the church began to again explore options to relocate its entire ministry. Attendance at Sunday morning worship was now 600. The church was debt free and began looking for acreage to build and expand even more. In the summer of 1992 Barry Cameron chose to accept another challenge at Crossroads Christian Church in Texas.
1992-2004: Forward by Faith
Dale Roberts and his wife Amy accepted a call to associate ministry with the church in July of 1992. Upon the departure of Barry Cameron, the Elders appointed Dale Senior Pastor. The 1990s were a decade of amazing growth, with up to 84% of the membership taking part in some ministry. Eventually, due to the size of the church, the concept of small group study was introduced. These small groups began to emerge and are still a vital part of the church.
Camp Glory continued to grow as a ministry to the children of working parents. It was a fee-for service program with a dedicated staff who took kids on trips and led a summer program on fun and Bible study. Average Sunday morning attendance by 1996 was 481. In 1996 the church purchased 22 acres on Peachland Blvd. for future expansion. A giving program, “Prepare the Way”, was started to raise $275,000 in three years to pay off the land and prepare for building. The plan was to sell to sell the original church complex and land, which was debt free, to build the new 37,000 square foot multi-ministry building.
2002-2005: Imagine What God Can Do
“Forward By Faith” were the words on the cover of the brochure for the largest giving campaign in the history of the church. In March of 2002 the membership was asked to pray and seek God’s direction on how to best accommodate the growth He brought. On Sunday, May 22, 2004, ground was officially broken for the new church on Peachland Blvd. The building process was interrupted by Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004 while the community recovered. In late August we moved into the new facility and our first worship service was held on September 4, 2005. With a new facility came more opportunities to reach out into the community. The church began a shower ministry that offers a shower, haircut, lunch, clothes and prayer to area homeless persons. It still operates once a month and affords our congregation an opportunity to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.”
2005-present: It’s a New Day
In 2006, after the departure of our Senior Pastor, a new era in the history of the church began. Jamie Snyder and his wife Alex accepted the call to become our Senior Pastor. He preached his first sermon on August 13, 2006 and asked the question, “If our church wasn’t here, would we be missed?” Jamie set about starting programs that were community based and desired to make the answer to that question a resounding, “Yes!”. New Day Christian Church became our new name on January 1, 2008, with the new vision statement: “Connect to God…Connect to One Another…Connect to Our Community.”
In June, 2010 Jamie accepted a call to Lakeside Christian Church in northern Kentucky. In a seamless transition, God provided a new Senior Pastor, Robert (Rusty) Russell. He came from Indiana with his wife Kellie and their children, Charlie, Tommy, Kimberly and Johnny. Rusty continues to move us into the next chapter in the story of our God and His people of New Day Christian Church.