Community Church was started in the 1940s and has grown with the community

Pete Hyde has served as pastor of the Community Church of Santa Rosa Beach for more than 13 years, its longest-serving leader.

The church was started in the 1940s by a small group of people in the area. When a hurricane came through in 1945 or 1947 that destroyed the Catholic, Baptist and Methodist churches, having no place to worship, the community started worshiping together in the one church that remained standing.

"They discovered they liked worshiping together and stayed together," said Hyde.

This mix of folks who embraced the common desire to be able to worship in a church pulled together to build a chapel in 1950. That original chapel was added onto and as more people came, the sanctuary building that is currently used for worship was completed in 1999.

Five years ago the church added a pre school.

Before Hyde came to pastor the church its leaders were mainly retired military pastors.

But no matter who was doing the pastoring, the church has stayed independent and not affiliated with any denomination.

Those who come to worship today will find a traditional-style worship service, said Hyde, a hold-over from the Catholic influence.

"But we are starting to blend in contemporary songs. We have a new music person who is bringing a more contemporary style," he said.

The new music person is Pastor Scooter Ward, who serves as associate pastor and music director.

The church sees an average of 130 people a week at worship, he said.

Hyde admits that the congregation is mostly older, but he is starting to see more young families as the worship service begins to slowly transition into a more contemporary style.

While he has none of the original members of the church, Hyde does have members who have been there for 20 years. The oldest living member is at Brookdale Senior Living.

"Since this is a mostly retirement community, most folks move away to be closer to family when they get older," he noted.

The pre-school that serves from 2 years up to pre-K has also helped attract younger families.

"We use our facility for all kinds of organizations -- Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts -- we're here for the community and we let the community use it as much as we can," he said.

On Tuesday nights, the church hosts an English-as-a-second-language program that has between 60-70 people enrolled.

The church's main worship service is held on Sundays at 10 a.m.

On Sunday and Thursday nights the El Shaddai Hispanic church uses the chapel.

The biggest change Hyde has seen in his 13 years pastoring the church is the extent it has stepped up to be involved in the community, and more recently, the gradual change in music and worship style.

Looking ahead, Hyde said he wants the church to become more involved with youth and young adults.

"We are landlocked and can't build, but we can expand our missions and outreach," he said.