“Relational. Engaging. Accepting. Life-giving,” he said, spelling out an acronym he created.
It’s not hard to find places of worship in the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel area. And could it be that not everyone's faith needs are being met? Last year, a new synagogue came to County Line Road while this summer saw Aletheia Tampa Church moving into the New Tampa YMCA from the USF campus.
“I think one of the reasons this is a hotbed for churches is because it’s one of the fastest-growing areas,” said Morris, whose church will begin holding services at Bartels Middle School on Jan. 27. “Here, you have developers coming in building new homes, and a new hospital is here. There’s a need for new commercial and retail stores, and that also explains the need for new churches.”
At 29, Morris may be a young lead pastor, but he is no stranger to the role. Father, Randy, is the lead pastor at Gulf Coast Church in Largo and the younger Morris said he’s been going to church since he was “in the womb," accepting Christ at the age of 5.
Morris concurs with the theory that church is a hospital.
“People don’t get healed up and go to the hospital,” said. “People go to the hospital when they’re sick, hurting and need help.
“We want people to belong before they believe,” he added. “Even if they don’t understand everything about God, they come and discover for themselves.”
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While Bay Chapel will call Bartels Middle home, the goal is that within 5 or 6 years the church will have its own digs — preferably to the north in Wesley Chapel. Morris pointed out that fundraising is not job number one, however.
“The church is not the building,” he said. “The church is the people.”
Bay Chapel will hold contemporary services that include a band. Morris, who is married with two children, said launching a new church is no easy feat.
“It feels like were up against a lot of obstacles,” said the West Meadows resident. “What’s driving us is to see lives changed. We believe most people are looking for God in one way or another.”
Bay Chapel has formed a launch team that meets every other week at Organic Life Coffeehouse. Want to learn more about Bay Chapel and Wes Morris? Visit www.baychapel.com on the web.