The Beach Church  officially began in December 1976  under the leadership of Rev. Thaine Ford, a retired Navy Chaplain, who gathered people “who recognized the need to form a Christian Church to minister to the needs of people on Pensacola Beach.”  The original leadership of the church consisted mainly of retired military officers and their wives, people with rich leadership experience and a global awareness.   The group originally met in homes, and then rented the bar area in the Holiday Inn Hotel where the Holiday Inn Express now stands.  While working through the question of denominational affiliation, the Florida United Church of Christ offered startup funds.  The church accepted the offer and affiliated with the United Church of Christ in 1978.  Since then all the full time pastors have been ordained by the UCC.

 

At that time the Pensacola Beach Women’s Club owned a building at the current site of the church front parking lot. They offered to let the church meet there and in 1981 the club offered to give the property to the Beach Church with the agreement that the club could continue to meet there in perpetuity.

 

As the church grew, the current sanctuary was built in 1990-91 under the leadership of Rev. Jack Forest and the former Women’s Club building was used as a fellowship hall.

 

In 2004 Hurricane Ivan decimated the Women’s Club building and it had to be torn down.  The church building also sustained major damages with walls and ceiling having to be replaced.  During the restoration the church met first at the Gulf Breeze Presbyterian Church, then the Hilton Inn and then the Catholic Church.

 

With the Women’s Building destroyed, the current parsonage was bought for use as offices and Sunday School space.  With a loan, insurance proceeds, and  money raised in a fund raising drive, the church then built the current fellowship hall in 2009.  It was called Randle Hall after Rev. Chuck Randle who served as “interim” pastor from 1996 to 2010.  

 

In February 2020 the church began to rent space to The Upper Room Church so the building could serve two congregations.  However, by mid-March Covid restrictions caused us to shut down the building until late summer and then Hurricane Sally caused an additional shutdown for a few weeks.  A new ministry that Rev. Jim Coyl (the church’s seventh full time pastor) developed from the shutdowns is a weekly podcast that reaches people both in our congregation and elsewhere.   Both congregations resumed in-person services in late fall though our community life was still limited because of social distancing guidelines.

 

In 2021, we are renewing our vision as we reconvene and look to the future.