Our Church History
Before the Town of Pass-A-Grille Beach was incorporated in 1911, song and religious services were held in the local hotels and homes. At this time the Town wanted to have a town hall, school house and church. In 1913 funds were raised by private subscription to buy property and build the first church on the barrier islands of Pinellas County. By 1914 the first Board of Trustees of the Union Church was elected and the congregation began meeting in the “Old School house” on 10th Avenue. The “Old Church” on 10th Avenue was finished in 1917 and dedicated on Christmas Eve. The Founder of the church, Evangelist Dr. Milan B. Williams, was the church’s pastor until 1935. His 1928 biography is written up in “The History of Pinellas County” by William L. Straub. In 1941 the church was incorporated as Pass-a-Grille Beach Community Church. Pastors were of many denominations and it was decided by 1949 that the church needed to belong to a denomination and joined the Congregational Conference of Florida. The last three pastors at the “Old Church” were Congregationalists who were loved and still remembered by the community for their spiritualism. The Sunday school grew to over 100 children. During the 1950s it was decided that the growing congregation needed to build a new church.
In March of 1959 the congregation moved into the new church on 16th Avenue and in the early 1960s the congregation became a part of the United Church of Christ. From 1959 until today the church has grown to a membership of over 900. A Thrift Shop, Day School and Counseling Clinic were begun during that time. Houses and a hotel were torn down in the 1970s to make room for parking. The Montessori School was formed as an outreach to the community in the late 1980s. In the 1990s a new educational building was added, along with remodeling the courtyard area to include a labyrinth, fountain and garden. The altar area was enlarged to make room for ever-increasing usage. Pass-a-Grille Beach Community Church is also the only barrier island church on the National Historic District register for the west coast of Florida. Today this active church continues to reach out to community, country and world-wide missions as it did from its very beginning.