Entering the second decade of the 21st century, First Church continues to flourish and serve as a beacon in the community. In September of 2010, the Love INC clearinghouse opened, marking a victory for local missions—uniting area churches with assistance agencies in the ministry of caring for those in need.
In 2011, Rev. Dan Oedy (wife Sarah) was called as Associate Pastor. Dan had served First Church as Director of Children and Youth Education since 2003, completed his seminary studies and was ordained in October 2011. He was with us until 2014. By December 2011, church membership was topping 1,500.
On September 30, 2012, CenterPoint opened as an alternate worship space. This marked the launch of our video ministry. Utilizing cutting-edge fiber optics, this new venue offered a live video feed from the sanctuary using state-of-the-art cameras, projectors and audio.
The congregation’s 40-year anniversary and retirement of our building debt were celebrated on January 27, 2013 during Heritage Sunday. The First Tartan Society was established with the purpose of encouraging planned giving to support the work of the church.
On April 27, 2014, First Church celebrated “A Decade of Excellence” observing 10 years under Senior Pastor Doug Pratt’s leadership. Milestones were highlighted… among them, growth in membership and attendance, the development of new ministries and expansion of existing ones, facility improvements, and outreach to our community and beyond. Doug’s preaching ministry was honored through the unveiling of the book Words of Hope, which featured one selected sermon from each year of his ministry in Bonita Springs. Establishment of the Douglas G. Pratt Scholarship Fund to assist future ministers attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary was announced.
In October of 2014, Dr. Al and Rev. June Barrow joined our staff with the opening of the new Spiritual Development Center.
In August of 2015, Associate Pastor Paul Fahnestock concluded his ministry with First Church to return to the mission field and Trusha Barner was hired as Director of Missions. In October of that same year, a new Saturday evening service was introduced featuring a blend of contemporary music and traditional hymns.
The following year brought more staff growth as Rev. Brad Rogers (wife Lauren) was called as Associate Pastor and installed in November. Dr. Allen Walworth (wife Connie) joined the pastoral team in December as part-time Assistant Pastor.
During the 2017-18 season, First Church established a Community Recovery Team to work with Love INC to repair and restore homes damaged by Hurricane Irma, which struck our area on September 10. The new Christian Artist Series was launched featuring Sandi Patty, Huntley Brown and Lindsey Graham.
At the end of 2018, our active membership stood at 1,983 with 656 affiliates. As we round out this decade, we have also seen our publications ministry expand to include all areas of communications. This has led to a relaunched website, updated Sunday bulletin, increased presence on social media and additional support for each of the ministries at First Church.