When Pete Hyde arrived to pastor Santa Rosa Beach Community Church in October 2003, he saw a need for the church to live up to its “community” name.
“Before I came, this church played a pivotal role in starting what is now Caring and Sharing in conjunction with the South Walton Ministerial Alliance,” Hyde told The Sun. “I discerned a need for us to extend our ministry further outside our congregation and the walls of our church. More Bible study and more involvement in missions, locally and beyond, and be involved in and impact the local community.”
Over the last 10 years, the church has made a deliberate effort to be in the community. Many organizations now use it as a meeting place, including three Girl Scout troops and El Shaddai Hispanic congregation, and the church sponsors Cub Scout Pack 562 with 90 boys registered this year.
Community Church is an integral part of the community-wide “Converge” youth ministry that involves Community Church, Good News United Methodist, The Chapel at Crosspoint, Simple Faith and Christ the King Episcopal Church.
The church’s annual Fall Festival and vacation Bible school are also community outreach events, and Bible study has grown from one adult class to seven classes for all ages, three taught by Hyde.
Church tithes are used in support of eight mission agencies plus a benevolence account. Eighty percent of mission spending goes to local agencies and 20 percent to foreign missions.
With a heart for missions, Hyde has led trips to the Appalachian Mountains to minister to the poor; been to Juarez, Mexico, to help build a church; and gone with a group from Community Church to the Dominican Republic to minister in a children’s hospital. He leaves Oct. 21 to go to Ecuador with Mission Aviation Fellowship, which provides air transportation and technical support for other agencies in the third world.
“Without their little Cessna planes, other mission agencies would not be able to spread the love and good news of Jesus Christ to remote areas of the world,” Hyde said.
Community Church has grown since Hyde’s arrival, with a new pre-school, a new building that doubled meeting room and administrative space and a new contemporary service.
“In addition to the obvious traits you associate with a pastor, Pastor Pete has a great sense of humor, a strong commitment to the Santa Rosa Beach community as well as to our church, and an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our congregation as a whole body and as individual members,” Jim Hopson, chairman of the board of deacons, told The Sun.
Hyde gives credit for all the church has accomplished over the last 10 years not to himself, but to “the leadership and the congregation that have prayerfully discerned that this is the direction God is taking us.”
Hyde, who spent the first 25 years of his 30-year ministry in the United Methodist Church, is often reminded of these words of John Wesley — Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.
“It my goal for Community Church to live out these words not only in the next 10 years, but in the next 10 months, in the next 10 days, in the next 10 hours and in the next 10 minutes. With God’s help it will be possible if we will just prayerfully commit to it.”
Hyde would love to continue as pastor at Community Church for another 10 years, but he hopes to be able to retire before he is 70. Most important to Hyde is the example he sets for modeling service and missions in the community.
“In my years here in Santa Rosa Beach, I have served on the Walton County Habitat for Humanity board, and I am currently in my 10th year of serving as volunteer on-call chaplain at Sacred Hospital. I am an active member of the South Walton Ministerial Alliance and serve on the board of Caring and Sharing.”
Hyde always tries to be a servant leader and believes he should be willing to do any job around the church, from cleaning the restrooms and changing light bulbs to preaching and teaching. He believes one of the special blessings of his calling is to be involved in people’s lives, from joyous times to darkest moments.
“If I could name a goal (for the church) it would be that Community Church never grows stagnate in its God-given and discerned mission. I hope that we will never tire of trying to reach more people in as many ways as we possibly can under the prayerful guidance of the Holy Spirit.”