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The Essentials of Pilgrim’s Beliefs

There is one God. He is the creator and sustainer of all that exists. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere. He is the triune God or God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 1 Timothy 2:5)

Jesus Christ
He is the only begotten son of God, sent to us by a loving God . He is Emmanuel, “God with us. He is the Word of God made flesh, sent to teach and show us how to live righteous lives according to God’s law. He was without sin. He was crucified on a Roman cross as an atonement for humankind’s sin. After three days, God he was resurrected from the dead. He now sits on the right hand of God the Father, and mediates on humankind’s behalf. By faith in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, we are granted forgiveness for our sins and given eternal life. (John 1, Titus 2:11-14; Romans 8:34)

Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is our advocate, our Helper. He inspires us to Follow Christ’s teachings, convicts us of our sins, calls us to repentance, and empowers us to lead Christ-like lives. The Holy Spirit also comforts us in our times of distress. (John 16:7,8; 12-15)

Salvation is deliverance from the punishment of sin into a living hope of eternal life with God. It brings forgiveness to the penitent, offers a new life in Jesus, and reconciles humankind to God. It cannot be earned by works, but is gift from God, given to those who put their faith in Christ. (Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3-5)

The church is the body of Christ. It is made up of every person who confessed Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. Each member, with their unique gifts and talents, is needed to strengthen the body and therefore is welcomed and celebrated. AS the body of Christ, the Church’s mission is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and share Christ’s love with others through acts of service. The church is also responsible for supporting, encouraging, teaching, and strengthening its members so that they may grow as disciples of Christ. (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 12:22-24)

The church recognizes two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion, both Christ has commanded us to observe. We hold them to be signs and seals of the covenant of grace. We honor them as outward, visible representation of our faith in the salvific work of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-34)

Highlights of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ history

Originally called Pilgrim Community Church, was the brain child of the Reverend Otto Tiede, a retired Congregational minister and missionary, in the winter of 1963-64.

April 19, 1964, the first worship service was held at the Reverend Tiede’s home, the attendance totaled 20, and the offering was $13.50.

For the 2nd service, the Yacht Club became the church home of the congregation, rent free, for the next eight years, until early 1972.

Charter Members, January 22, 1967, in order of signature

  • Horace H & Frieda S Goodell
  • J Michael & Kathryn M Davis
  • Ralph, William, and Phyllis S Milliken
  • E Roger & Grace Hewitt
  • Mrs. Catherine Regis and George Priest, Old Town, Maine
  • Lillian Egerton, Mrs. Irene Crain, and Herbert Zerby
  • John B & Lillian Hopkins
  • Charles A & Irene Sorrell, Naples, Florida (temporary)
  • Willard G & Winifred B Jordan
  • Harold & Helen Harvey
  • Mrs. Caroline F Jacobson

 Supporting or Associate Members

  • Adolph & Madeline Schessler
  • Miss Lucile Oilar
  • Ward R & Nellie C Perry
  • Mrs. Helen L Plummer
  • Jack M & May C Logan
  • Ralph L & Viola S Davis
  • Donald R & Lillian S Seelen
  • Mrs. Pauline Mactsch
  • Mr. & Mrs. Weston B Belcher

 A record 85 attended Easter service in 1971.

February 1972, the Yacht Club was undergoing renovations. The Pilgrim Congregation rented the Seventh Day Adventist Church, for a fee of $10.00 per week.

The Divinity that assists devoted believers was felt by the Pilgrim Church in the remarkable year of 1974. January brought the startling news that the Seventh Day Adventist Board wished to sell the sanctuary, educational building, and garage. The congregation committed to buying the property in faith of covering the financial burden.

November 1, 1974, the Reverend Ray S. Utterback began his ministry in Port Charlotte. The well-worn cliché of the appearance of the right man at the right place and the right time fits very well in this instance. Pilgrim Church in Port Charlotte, membership of 33. Utterback went to work and doubled the membership in 14 months.

By the end of 1977 the membership totaled 140, with the morning congregation totaling 196. The church was “bursting at the seams”.

Rapid growth led to building a sanctuary in front of the standing sanctuary. In his annual report the Reverend Utterback called 1978 “an exciting year.” Liabilities included the loan secured for the new sanctuary and the site for its construction. The budget of $42,700 was underwritten with a surplus. The average attendance was 158 with a high of 262.

This fourth home in the 15 year history of the Pilgrim family in Port Charlotte was dedicated on April 22, 1979 ‘to the glory of God and the service of His children.” The Reverend Horace Goodell, the founding pastor delivered the invocation.

In one week in April 1981 the pastor counted 75 members who were performing various tasks: choir members, ushers, greeters, cleaners, mowers on the lawn, communion stewards, and women working in craft groups. This was an opportunity for both service and friendships to be formed that were helpful in a rapidly growing membership.

In mid-July of 1981, Reverend Utterback suffered a stroke that led eventually to his resignation.

“After six months of diligent work” and careful screening of about 30 profiles, the Search Committee reported their choice of a new minister for Pilgrim Church was the Reverend Larry K. May of New Bremen, Ohio.

In 1992 Pilgrim Church was led by Revs. Winthrop Yinger, Bradley Lines, Arthur Van Camp and Myra Nagel. Choir Director was William King and Organist was Judy Prier.

We moved into our new sanctuary in 1994 on Rampart Blvd. The move was made necessary when the county took some of our land for the continuation of Midway which resulted in a loss of parking spaces.

In March 1996, The Rev. Dean Dalrymple served as Interim Pastor. Judith Prier served as Organist / Director of Music while Rhea Galfano was the Choir Director. Rev. Bradley Lines served as Minster of Hospital Visitations and Rev. Arthur Van Camp served as Minister of Homebound Visitation. Millie Zimmer was Secretary, Administrative Assistant.

Saturday, September 21, 1996 Sun Herald newspaper article: Pastor to be installed. The Rev. Matthew L. Neumann will be installed as senior pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ during a special service at 4 p.m. Sunday. The church is at 24515 Rampart Blvd in Port Charlotte.

February 1999 Pilgrim’s Progress, the newsletter of Pilgrim United Church of Christ announced that the community center was essentially complete. Dedication and Celebration Day was Sunday, February 21, 1999 with lunch and short program.

In the year 2000 our continuing mission is to be “The Presence of Christ in the World.” Through loving Jesus Christ and one another, we are seeking to be instruments through whom His life and love can be experienced in our congregation and community. Staff for Pilgrim were Bradley Lines served as Minster of the Hospitalized and Rev. Arthur Van Camp served as Visitation Minister. Judith Prier served as Organist / Director of Music while Rhea Galfano was the Choir Director. Dorothy Pojeky was Church Secretary and Rev. Matthew L. Neumann as Senior Pastor.

Starting a pre-school at Pilgrim had been discussed for three years, and finally in June of 2004 Joyful Noise Pre-school was birthed. When the pre-school opened its doors, it had three students. By December 4, it had 41 students and was at capacity for the space available in three rooms in the Community Center.

Then in June 2005 the administrator of Joyful Noise was notified by the State of Florida that the pre-school qualified to provide state financed, pre-school care for four year-olds (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten – VPK) and could teach the children Christian material.

In 2008, our attendance increased 11%. Additionally, the pledges made were 20% higher in 2008 than in 2006. The 9:00 AM contemporary service, which had a small attendance when started in 1999, now had an attendance as large as or larger than the 11:00 AM service.

August 8, 2010 new worship service times began: 8:00 am Traditional; 9:25 am Contemporary; and 10:45 am Contemporary. There was an open prayer room following each service. Membership December 31, 2010 was at 575 with an average attendance of 449.

A 2014 report from RKL Appraisal and Consulting from Naples, FL, summed the property at 24515 Rampart Blvd as “The facility includes a 10,953 square foot sanctuary with office which seats approximately 300, a detached social hall at 11,978 square feet (250 seats), and a day care center at 9,662 square feet which is licensed for 348 children. The church was constructed in 1994 with additions in 1999 (social hall) and 2010 (day care center). The site consists of 9.62 acres, or 419,100 square feet.”

On February 22, 2018, Cynthia Poudrette was promoted from VPK teacher to the School Director position. The average enrollment was 204 students with a staff of 30.

In May 2018 Pastor Matthew Neumann announced his retirement at the end of the year. General Council immediately began the process of searching for a new leader with the formation of a Search Committee.

The COVID-19 Virus hit, March of 2020 and Reverend Bill Klossner agreed to serve as a pulpit supply pastor. As two weeks turned into six months, Rev. Bill was an invaluable addition to the leadership.

Sunday, October 11, 2020, Pastor John Barnette filled the pulpit as Pilgrim Church’s new Senior Pastor.

Hurricane Ian’s September 28, 2022, impact on Pilgrim Church Campus and our community was devastating. While the Community Center and Sanctuary were immediately closed off for safety concerns and need months of cleaning and repairs; we’re proud to see neighbors helping neighbors. The work of Love One Another has been seen everywhere these recent months.

Sunday Worship

Our blended worship service includes: Organ/Piano Prelude/Postlude, Call to Worship, Bible Readings, Hymns, Lord’s Prayer, Sermon, and Choir Anthems. We have a gifted Organist and a 16 year old prodigy pianist along with our talented Music director and choir! We have a handbell choir that prepares special pieces for Easter and Christmas.

Holy Communion is served on the first Sunday of each month. Near the end of the service Pastor John will extend an invitation to everyone to proceed to the Altar. We serve communion by intinction, this is the practice of partly dipping the consecrated bread, into the consecrated grape juice. We use grape juice, instead of wine, so all may partake. If you prefer to receive a prefilled cup and wafer, please indicate to your server when you arrive at the Altar. Gluten free wafers are also available. If you are unable to come forward during communion, but wish to receive the elements, please stay in your seat and we’ll come to you.

 Dress: We really mean it when we say, you are welcome here. Some of the congregation will be in suits and dress and some will be in shorts and t-shirts. Come as you are, come as you comfortable, come to the Lord’s house.

 Pastor John follows the lectionary and the church calendar.

Bible Study

Children are dismissed from worship following the first hymn. They have a lesson and craft time with Ms. Jessica in the Children’s Ministry Room.

 Pastor John also leads short term studies through the year: Lent, Summer, Advent.


Matthew 25:34 Take your inheritance serve all the people the hungry the homeless the sick the poor. All in Jesus Name.

Pilgrim United Church of Christ Mission Outreach was very active in 2021. The members of Pilgrim Church were very generous with mission pledges and were able to meet our financial commitments to all groups.

Back Pack Kids provides food in backpacks for weekends. 15 schools in Charlotte County.

Homeless Coalition provides temporary shelter, financial assistance, hot meals, food pantry.

Habitat for Humanity the Apostle Build Pilgrim Church partners with 9 other churches  This is the 11th year.

Food Pantry open every Monday & Wednesday with help of volunteers served 1788families in 2021. Boy Scout Troop 351 collected a record 3,000 lbs. of canned goods.

Wings of Shelter provides housing for female teenage victims of sex trafficking.

Young Lives is a teen program that focus on getting to know Jesus after school at the Port Charlotte Mall.

Virginia B Andes Community Clinic provides no cost medical, pharmacy and wellness services in Charlotte County.

Community Support

Closed meetings are for A.A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and “have a desire to stop drinking.” AA-Women is a Fellowship of women who have lost the ability to control our drinking and have found ourselves in various kinds of trouble as a result of drinking. We attempt—most of us successfully—to create a satisfying way of life without alcohol. For this we find we need the help and support of other alcoholics in A.A. Our group is the PMS (Women) Physical, Mental, Spiritual Women’s Step Study. Monday nights at 7:00 p.m.

Boy Scouts of America
The BSA serves duly constituted, community-based organizations and offers an educational resource program based on duty to God and duty to country. Pilgrim church serves as chartered organization to Troop and Pack 351 – boy scouts and cub scouts.  The chartered organization provides leadership, meeting facilities, encouragement, and other support as needed.  In return, the boys perform flag ceremonies, at special services, cook breakfast on Scout Sunday, and collect food donations for the church food pantry, just to name a few activities that are mutually beneficial.

The Boy Scouts meet every Monday evening at 6:30 PM during the school year in the Pilgrim Church Community Center, Cub Scouts meet on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM. Summer programming varies. Please contact church office for more information.

Pilgrim Women’s Fellowship

Women need godly fellowship. Whether a woman is a new mom who rarely sees other women, a retiree who is home alone, or something in between, women need deep, rich and lasting connections that are meaningful and challenging. Rather than the quick and superficial “hello, how do you do’s” of Sunday mornings, a women’s ministry gives the opportunity for deep connections. Make a commitment this year to become involved!

Women’s Fellowship Study Group  meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month in the Church Conference room at 10:00 a.m. The meeting includes time for biblical study and reflection, many women venture out for a fellowship lunch following the meeting.

Women’s Fellowship Book Club meets several times a year. For the February reading is, “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. First published in 1971, this is a classic you won’t want to miss.

Joyful Noise

Our School offers low ratios in a Christian, high-quality educational environment. The curriculum is full of fun and adventurous activities in a faith-based atmosphere. Program hours are 7:00 am – 6:00 pm for one year olds thru fifth graders. We are both (NAC) National Accreditation Commission Accredited and Gold Seal Accredited.

Visit Our Web Site

Joyful Noise Learning Center Mission Statement
Pilgrim United Church of Christ is a community responding to God’s call. Our mission is to reach out to all people and help them grow in their faith and to know God personally.

Joyful Noise Learning Center provides creative learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate and nurture children to thrive intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially, artistically and physically. We instill a genuine love of learning while providing a broad, challenging and stimulating education. We promote self-reliance and establish a supportive and nurturing learning environment for students of varied talents and abilities.

We maintain a strong, inclusive, family atmosphere committed to Christian values while honoring the socioeconomic, ethnic and religious diversity within our school community.