Parrish Civic Association
Bayside Church Buys Property in Parrish for New Campus
By Mimi Sheffer
Randy and Amy Bezet started Bayside Community Church in September 2002, meeting at Bashaw Elementary school in Bradenton. The church grew quickly and the first campus opened in West Bradenton in February 2011. Wanting to make it easier for people to attend church, they branched out into various communities to meet people where they are. Bayside now has 8 locations throughout the area – in Manatee and Sarasota counties and most recently in Hardee and Hillsborough counties. In many locations, they meet in local schools.
They want to help people know God, find family, live in freedom and discover their purpose, so everything they do as a church body is centered around those goals. “People don’t just want a friendly church, they want a church of friends,” say Kristin Becnel, Creative Executive Director. “We are a church for the community and a church of community, doing life together,” says Becnel.
Bayside loves to serve the communities in which they meet and that outreach is one of the reasons why the church is growing so quickly. At the beginning of the school year, they can be found distributing backpacks full of school supplies for children in need. They can also be found handing out water at busy intersections, passing out popsicles at Buffalo Creek Park during sports events and tailgating at Parrish Community High School sporting events.
Bayside is very active in the schools where they hold services, often serving those schools by washing windows, power-washing the schools or re-freshing the landscaped areas. They help with the Sunshine Club at Buffalo Creek Middle School and they offer a Teacher Breakfast for teachers at various schools. They eagerly gather others to help them serve the community, creating a sense of belonging and inclusion in their congregations. “It’s less about promoting Bayside than fostering that sense of service,” say Kristin and Pastor Murphy.
The Children’s Ministry is also a key component in the growth of the church. They want the kids to have fun and make friends, then learn about God in an age-appropriate environment, so they will want to keep coming back. At each church meeting place, even the remote, or ‘tear-down’ locations, they create activity stations where the kids can play, get active and develop friendships. “It’s not what the kids are doing, it’s who they are doing it with that makes a difference,” says Pastor Murphy, “so the kids have fun even if they are playing four square together.” The Middle School and High School Youth programs encourage the kids to help and serve; you’ll often find the students helping run the lights for services. High Schoolers meet in small groups, called “house parties”. Once a month, they meet at the East Bradenton Campus for food, games and a service.
The Bayside Church North River Congregation meets at Buffalo Creek Middle School and has become a very popular church in the community. Recognizing the growth in the Parrish and North River area, the church has just recently purchased a 20-acre parcel of land on Moccasin Wallow Road, near I-75. There is no word yet on when the campus might be built but they are excited to be creating a permanent home in the Parrish community.