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Church postpones move to new site

The church had hoped to have its services at St. Petersburg High School, but a lease was declined.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 15, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Pinellas Community Church already has outgrown the building it acquired five years ago. But getting more worship room will have to wait.

The congregation had hoped to begin holding Sunday services in the 1,200-seat auditorium of St. Petersburg High School. School officials, though, declined to sign an ongoing lease with the 9-year-old congregation and allowed it to hold only its Easter service on the property.

The Rev. David Melendez, Pinellas Community Church's founder and pastor, appears undaunted by the setback.

"We have multiple irons in the fire," he said, declining to discuss specific plans. "We are looking into all kinds of other options. We are kind of on a holding pattern."

Melendez said the congregation would rather not go into debt to acquire new, larger quarters to replace the property it received for the token sum of $10 in 1997.

"The bottom line is our priority is God and people, and buildings are far down the list," he said.

"We just don't want to be so full that we communicate to people that you're not welcome."

The crowds that attend Pinellas Community Church are so large that a state trooper has to direct Sunday traffic at the 5501 31st St. S property.

Before its request for a lease was turned down by St. Petersburg High School, the church had planned to hold its Sunday services at the school and keep its administrative offices and weekday programs at its Pinellas Point location. Melendez had said the high school, at 2501 Fifth Ave. N, was a more centrally located spot for his expanding congregation.

For now, the church, which has an attendance of about 1,200, holds three services, at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 and 10:45 a.m. on Sundays, to accommodate its followers.

"We just know that everything is going to work out," Melendez said. "Every time a door closes, we know that another one will open."

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