One of Manatee County’s fastest growing churches, Bayside Community Church, has purchased 20 acres along Moccasin Wallow Road, where it plans to build an 800-seat place of worship.
The old nursery property at 9505 Moccasin Wallow Road is located west of North River Ranch, which is slated for 6,000 homes, and Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School.
The construction schedule for the North River campus in Bayside is uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kristin Becnel, executive director of culture at Bayside. “It’s in the air.”
Moccasin Wallow Road is the epicenter of a construction boom expected to bring 25,000 homes to the Parrish and North River area.
Bayside Community Church was founded in 2002 at Bashaw Elementary School. Bayside is now a multi-site church serving Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee and Wauchula counties.
“Our founding and senior pastor, Randy Bezet, started Bayside with a heart to love and serve our community and to help people know God, find families, live in freedom, and discover their purpose. With seven different places, our heart remains the same – to be a church in and for the community and to love, serve and help people know Jesus, ”Becnel said.
Bayside’s North River Campus opened in 2016, meeting at Buffalo Creek Middle School. The campus, run by Pastor David Murphy, is now the home of the church for approximately 1,000 people in the North River area.
In July, Bayside resumed hosting in-person services at most of its locations. Bayside’s North River campus has yet to resume meetings at Buffalo Creek Middle. For now, the congregation is joining services at the East Bradenton campus in Bayside.
“It’s amazing to be a part of a church experience this season and this time,” Becnel said.
In September, the North River campus planned 31 outreach activities to serve this community on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the Bayside Community Church.
“The grace of God … no, for real the grace of God. We regularly pray as a team for this area, we know prayer is the foundation, ”Murphy replied in an email when asked about the growth of Bayside.
“From a human perspective, we serve together, laugh together, cry together and sweat together and this has created a feeling of close community. It’s like family and people yearn for community, ”said Murphy.
“Bayside tries to do things to the best of our ability, even in college, but I can absolutely say that it is by the grace of God that we have grown. We are normal, genuine, imperfect people who are learning to take God and his word seriously and by making life that way, God has increased our numbers. We want everyone to be part of a community of life-giving friends who love God and his word, and love the people around them, no matter who they are, ”he said.
The North Bayside campus has approximately 30-40% of its employees meeting with the East Bradenton campus. The rest is virtually tuned. Some have watched evenings with other families while others are joining church online, Facebook or YouTube.
“When we met at Buffalo Creek Middle School before COVID, there was an average of 1,100 people, including children and students, coming to the North River campus,” Murphy said.
“We want people to know the name of Jesus. We are one of the many different expressions of Biblical Christianity in our area, but we invite those who want to know more, to come and see what God is doing. It’s his church, in this little part of the world, we’re just trying to be faithful to him, ”he said.
For more information on the North River Campus of the Bayside Community Church, visit https://mybayside.church/north-river-campus/.