A NEW CHURCH IN A NEW CITY
The first service of what would become First Christian Church of Port Charlotte was held in the home of Mrs. Margaret Martin on August 9, 1959. There were 19 members present.
Brother Eric Dance from First Christian Church of Fort Myers had agreed to help get a church started in Port Charlotte. He invited members from a small group of believers in Punta Gorda to join the fledgling group meeting in Mrs. Martin’s home, and the two groups began making plans to incorporate as one church.
On November 29, 1959, Pastor Harry Thomas and his wife, Minerva, accepted the call to lead the new church.
Fifty names were affixed to the church’s charter, and it was incorporated under the laws of Florida on January 10, 1960.
First pastor of future New Day Christian Church.
OVER THE YEARS
The church was deeded a prime piece of property by General Development Corporation on the corner of Gibraltar and Easy Street.
On January 31, 1960, the church gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony, and the first service in the new building was held on April 17, 1960.
Pastor Thomas retired in the summer of 1967 and Coleman T. Sparrow answered the call to become the next senior minister.
On February 4, 1968, Brother Coleman Sparrow preached his first sermon at First Christian Church.
In anticipation of future growth, a new sanctuary seating 600 people was soon built. The new building was completed and formally dedicated on November 3, 1974.
Pastor Sparrow continued to lead the flock until his retirement in 1980.
Barry L. Cameron accepted the call to become the church’s third pastor in August of 1980.
Barry and his wife, Janis, and their two children moved to Port Charlotte, and Barry preached his first sermon on October 19, 1980. At that time the Sunday morning attendance averaged 190 people.
The church began to grow, requiring a larger staff and bigger facilities. By 1981 a full-time secretary, music director, associate pastor and youth pastor were added to the staff. The church’s original building was remodeled into a multipurpose building, office complex and nursery.
Because of continued growth, in 1990 the church began to explore options to relocate its entire ministry. Sunday morning worship attendance was now 600. The church was debt free and began looking for acreage on which to build new and larger facilities.
In the summer of 1992, Barry Cameron accepted a new call to become the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Dale Roberts, who had been an associate pastor with the church for many years, was appointed Senior Pastor in July of 1992.
This was a season of involvement: Eighty-four percent of the membership was regularly involved in serving, and the concept of small groups was introduced to allow for deeper connection.
In 1996 the church purchased 22 acres on Peachland Boulevard for future expansion. Plans were made to sell the original church complex on Gibraltar and build a new 37,000-square-foot complex on Peachland.
After years of planning and fundraising, on Sunday, May 22, 2004, ground was officially broken for the new church building on Peachland.
The building process was interrupted when Hurricane Charley devastated Charlotte County on August 13, 2004. But soon construction resumed. A little over one year later, on September 4, 2005, the first worship services were held in the new facility.
Shortly after entering the new building, the church and senior pastor had a parting of ways, thrusting the church into a challenging season without a senior leader.
God deepened the congregation through turbulent times, and in 2006 a new era began. Jamie Snyder accepted the call to become the Senior Pastor, and he and his wife, Alex, moved to Port Charlotte.
Jamie preached his first sermon on August 13, 2006, asking the question, “If our church wasn’t here, would we be missed?” Jamie led the church to focus on reaching the community for Jesus Christ.
It was a new season, a new day, for the church. The church chose to take on a new name, officially becoming New Day Christian Church on January 1, 2008.
The revitalized church grew significantly. By 2010 the average Sunday morning attendance was again over 600 people.
In 2010, Jamie Snyder accepted a call to Lakeside Christian Church in Northern Kentucky. In a seamless transition, God provided a new leader.
In June of 2010, Jamie introduced Rusty Russell to the congregation as the elders’ choice to replace him. Jamie encouraged the congregation to vote for Rusty as the new Lead Pastor and welcomed him to the platform. The congregation agreed.
In July of 2010, Pastor Rusty moved from Southern Indiana with his wife, Kellie, and their four children to become the lead pastor of New Day Christian Church.
Rusty discovered that the church’s move to Peachland Boulevard a few years earlier had proved costly. New Day was several million dollars in debt.
In 2014 the church embarked on a debt reduction campaign and raised over 1.6 million dollars to alleviate the financial strain and prepare for future growth. The campaign successfully spurred a new season of growth and opportunity.
In 2016, New Day was listed in Christian Standard magazine as one of the fastest growing churches among the Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in America. In 2019 a Saturday evening service was added to accommodate growth. In 2020, the pandemic caused the church to rethink how the church gathered and started live streaming the services online.
The church now averages just over 2,000 people participating in weekend services in-person. Approximately 1,000 additional people on average join online every weekend through live-streamed services.
New Day opened a new campus in North Port, Florida and held the first service on Sunday, September 3, 2023. New Day is also opening a new campus in Sarasota, Florida that will launch in 2024, Lord willing.
Only God knows what the future holds for New Day Christian Church. The church’s mission states in part, “Jesus calls us to make disciples who make disciples.” We believe our job is not done as long as there is one more person we could help win to Christ. Our hope is that every person within our influence will come to know the grace and hope that comes only through Jesus Christ our Lord.