Aldersgate United Methodist Church Invites Former Members to 50th Anniversary Events
In 1959, a group of mid-Pinellas Methodists decided traveling half an hour every Sunday for church services was for the birds. So the 46 families pitched a big tent in the Cross Bayou area -- on the corner of 94th Avenue and Starkey Road -- and started their own church, which became Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Within a year, the members had built a sanctuary, started a choir and offered Sunday School classes and other activities.
Faye Smith, currently living in Trinity, was one of the first members. She remembers making the trek to Clearwater every Sunday for church. "It was much nicer when church was closer," Smith said in a phone interview.
Fifty years later, Aldersgate includes more than 1,100 members and holds three services each Sunday. This past year, the church built the Aldersgate Family Life Center, which includes a new sanctuary, fellowship and classroom area to accommodate all the various activities that go on throughout the week. Aldersgate Christian Learning Center provides pre-school day care and after-school care to elementary school students.
Current senior pastor, Rev. Charles E. Engelhardt, Jr., said the church's focus has remained the same over the years. "We want Aldersgate to be a place where people can come and grow in their relationship with Jesus," Engelhardt said.
Smith sang in the choir, served on various committees and worked at the Learning Center until she retired a few years ago. "It gives me a great feeling to know I?ve been a small part of the growth," Smith said. "You feel humbled and yet proud to have been a part of all of that."
Former members and friends of Aldersgate will celebrate at a series of events being held Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27, according to Connie Gregg, chair of the 50th anniversary committee. Events include:
For more information about the anniversary activities, call the church office at (727) 391-0218 or go to the church's Web site at www.aldersgate.com.
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