Members of Grace began meeting in September 2008 about the possibility of planting a church in East Lee County (about 30-45 minutes east of Grace). Over the next six months, about 20-30 folks from Grace met every other Friday night to pray and pursue this possibility together. In March 2009, the elders of Grace connected with another pastor in the area who had recently been let go due to the economic downturn. Through this growing relationship, we came to call Shawn Bergen as pastor of church planting at Grace and the lead planter of our first daughter church in Southwest Florida.
Shawn Bergen began the pre-launch of would soon become Providence church in April 2009 by leading this group of members from Grace in a weekly small group. Over the next 16 months, the vision continued with adding two additional small groups and calling Jared Longshore as co-pastor of Providence and worship leader.
On October 3, 2010, Providence Church launched with 75 in attendance. Providence services are currently meeting in Varsity Lakes Middle School in Lehigh Acres. Their gathered worship begins at 9:30AM with Life Groups meeting in evening in various locations throughout East Lee County. Their vision is encapsulated in these few sentences:
Providence Church seeks to make known the riches of God's glory, by worshiping God, loving people, and making disciples centered in the gospel. We are a community of undeserving and ordinary people who have found acceptance in the extraordinary grace of Jesus Christ. Our heart's desire is to share this extraordinary grace with you.
For more information, please visit Providence Church online, and if you live in the Lee County Area (especially Lehigh Acres), we strongly encourage you to check them out!
Future Daughter Churches
As a church planting church, Grace envisions planting several more churches in the coming years, especially here in Southwest Florida. We are currently training an aspiring church planter to start a church in Harlem Heights--a multi-ethnic center for the urban poor of Ft, Myers, Florida. Other potential church plants include Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, and South Ft. Myers. As these opportunities develop, we will make them known on our church blog and website.