In November 1985, a handful of families gathered together in a young pastor's living room with the God-given dream of building a church to bless the central Brevard County community. About a year-and-a-half later, they had grown to one hundred-twenty adults and children, and had purchased the 13,000 square foot Merritt Twin Cinema building. Through hard work and determination,the young congregation was able to transform the vandalized twin theaters into a 275-seat auditorium on one side and a children's auditorium on the other. They held their first church service in 1987.
Our youth ministry starts! We realized quickly that our youth needed to be taught and mentored from a young age to hold Jesus close to their hearts. Now it is formally known as TNT Youth Church however it was Started by Pastor Eric who now pastors Shoreline Church in Destin Florida. TNT is for youth going into 7th grade and coming out of their senior year of high school. What started out as a handful has now become more than 200 Youth kids all hungry and on fire for Jesus.
Just over a decade later, East Coast Christian Center had outgrown its facility. Even with multiple adult services and make-shift classrooms for children, we were in desperate need of more space. Under the leadership of Senior Pastor Dan Stallbaum, we tore down the wall that separated the adult and children's auditoriums and made one 600-seat auditorium. Soon after that project came the opportunity to purchase the 25,000-square-foot Merritt Office Complex, which was transformed into the East Coast Community Care Center.
The newly remodeled sanctuary was completed in 1999. The new Care Center building was a perfect solution; there was plenty of room for the children, as well as East Coast Christian Academy daycare and preschool. The business offices of the church were moved to the Care Center, which made room for a new prayer room on the second floor of the auditorium building. Every department in the church was experiencing steady growth.
In 2002, a young adult ministry, the Mezzanine, was launched. This is for 18-29 year olds and that met in our Children's Ministry building. Now it meets in the Parkway Worship Center every Sunday night from at 7pm.
In 2005, an adjacent property with a 6,000-square-foot building became available and we purchased it with future expansion in mind. With three Sunday morning services nearing capacity and the children's ministry setting new attendance records, it was time to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes. In February 2007, we launched our first-ever capital stewardship campaign, a two-year venture Breaking Barriers, Building Dreams.
The spring of 2007 saw the unveiling of the 250-seat Avenue Worship Center, with additional office space, two nurseries, and a cafe. In August of 2007, we introduced a brand new Sunday morning service in this venue. Running simultaneously with our live 10 am service in our main auditorium, the Avenue Worship Center Sunday morning service features an acoustic worship style and a video presentation of the message.
We ushered in 2008 with the installation of a state-of-the-art video sign, spreading the good news of the Gospel to all those commuters who make the 40,000 trips per day past our campus. We are now hard at work on plans to update the Parkway Worship Center and the Care Center buildings so that we are able to serve our community more effectively. By the end of our two-year campaign, the goal was to retire our existing mortgage and direct that money towards expanding ministry opportunities both locally and globally.
We have moved on from Life Christian University to the new, accredited East Coast Christian University. Whether you are getting a degree in theology or just a certificate, ECCU is the school for you. Classes are held in the Community Care Center or what is now referred to as the Children's Ministry Building. Today we have more campuses, one here in Merritt Island, and one in Vancouver Washington. Our Mission Statement is: East Coast Christian University is for the equipping Christians to have a greater impact in their community by having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and an in-depth knowledge of the Word of God.
This year marked the launch of our Viera Location meeting in the Carmike Movie Theater in Viera. This campus is pastored by former Mezzanine Pastor, Pastor Matt Stallbaum, while Pastor David Gammon took over pastoring the Mezzanine. The Viera Location is still portable but is now located in the Viera High School Auditorium with services at 9:15 & 10:45 AM on Sunday mornings.
This year marks the launch of our newest campus in Cocoa! We were given the building By Pastor Dick Perkins and his wife Anita. It started out small, but today they host two services and see over 200 people a weekend! God is doing great things in Brevard County.
This year marked the launch of our Online campus. In the midst of a global pandemic it gave us the unique opportunity to make our church digital. We now have five online services meeting Saturday night and Sunday morning.
We have been truly blessed over the years. The dream of that handful of families has become a reality. Now, we stand at the threshold of even greater dreams. Yesterday's barriers have become the platforms upon which our God-given dreams are being built! We now have Four Campuses across the county and One Digital Campus. Our mortgage has been paid in full, and we are always looking to expand and grow in what God has in store for our church. We are currently building in Viera with sights set on a new building being done within the next 12-18 months.