Paradise Coast Church Story
The Sunday after Easter of 2021, Paradise Coast Church celebrated its second birthday. What follows is some of our story.
In early 2017, Dr. Jim and Gail McClaren felt led by God to leave the church planting work they were doing in Cleveland and move to Naples, Florida to plant a church there. The second half of 2017 was about leaving Cleveland, spending six wonderful months with Trinity Covenant Church in Connecticut, and driving to Florida in January of 2018 in the worst snowstorm of the winter.
2018 was about meeting people. Jim and Gail knew three people in Naples when they arrived. It was also about learning the city, its culture, and its beauty. Everyone they met in the first six months kept saying, “It’s paradise here.” Hence, the name of the church—Paradise Coast Church.
After much prayer and work by lots of people, Paradise Coast Church opened its doors for its first worship service on Easter Sunday of 2019 in the North Naples Middle School. It took a couple of months to realize that the middle school and the church weren’t a good match for each other and another month to figure out where to meet instead. After praying and looking, we found a location that fit us better.
In the summer of 2019, we moved to the Paragon Theater in the Pavilion Plaza on the corner of Vanderbilt Beach Rd and 41. We spent the summer learning how to set up and take down and utilize the theater. We discovered that we had the best seats in town.
Paradise Coast Church got some stability and then began to plan for some growth. Once again, prayer and a plan came together. The plan began to be executed in February of 2020. Invitations were made. More people started coming. There was growth. Momentum was building.
One Thursday in March, Dr. Jim got a call from the manager of the theater saying they were closed because of the pandemic. The church could not meet at the theater until it reopened, whenever that would be. Once again, back to prayer, and with discussions on that Thursday night and throughout the day on Friday, the decision was made to live stream on Sunday. On Saturday, Dr. Jim spent the day learning to live stream. Sunday, from his living room, with Gail as his Associate Producer, Paradise Coast Church went virtual and had its first live stream service to 20 people on Facebook.
Dr. Jim’s prayer had been, “God, we don’t just want to survive during the pandemic; we want to thrive.” God answered that prayer. He brought some technical support, and by Easter, there were 500 people on the live stream.
These 500 people were from Naples, Golden Gate Estates, Bonita Springs, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg, Florida. There were people from Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville and Johnson City, Tennessee. There were people from Manchester, Bolton, Andover, and Coventry, Connecticut. There were people from Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, Ohio. There were even people from Boulder City, Nevada and the Philippines. All of these people were looking for words of hope and help from God to get through the pandemic. They found those words and more in Paradise Coast Church’s live stream worship services. They found a church family coming to them through their screens, people caring for them and praying for them. Together, we helped each other through.
In July of 2020, Dr. Jim was led to start a prayer group to pray for America as we all watched America’s cities burn with rioting and looting while the pandemic still ran wild. Every Thursday, a group of 12 people or more continue to gather on zoom to pray for America, not so much telling God the problems, but asking God for solutions. In response to our prayers and the prayers of many others around the country, we have seen the pandemic settle down and the fires go out in our cities. There is still so much more that needs to happen in America, so we still pray.
In August 2020, the theater called and said they were going to open at the end of the month, and we were welcomed to return. That led to another learning curve as our setup team had to learn how to live stream from the movie theater—not an easy task, but with prayer and perseverance, we learned and are doing it each week.
On the Sunday after Easter 2021, Paradise Coast Church celebrated it’s second birthday. Mike from Naples says that the services are impactful with God’s Word being preached, and being a part of Paradise Coast Church has changed his life, his attitudes, and his relationships. He says he looks forward to going to church, and that hasn’t always been the case. Dyanah from Boulder City said she found Paradise Coast Church as she was recovering from cancer surgery and taking chemo while also being locked down, afraid, and alone. She said the support she received from Paradise Coast Church was life changing, and she has grown in her faith—a lot.
Paradise Coast Church’s doors, arms, and hearts are open to welcome you to join us in the best seats in town to experience and share the amazing love and grace of our wonderful God.
See You Sunday!