(Photo: Gulf Breeze UMC)
A Florida Pastor who recently left the United Methodist Church has started up a new congregation at a beach bar so as to reach out to those uncomfortable with the traditional church setting.
Pastor Jack Kale oversaw the first prayer service for Central Waterside Church at Bimini Beach Bar in Hemingway on Sunday. The congregation is part of a megachurch based in Las Vegas.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Kale explained that in recent years he had led a beach bar church called "Worship at the Water" or W@W on behalf of Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church. "Over the last four years, I began to experience a different kind of church that was based on simple worship and an organic lay leadership structure," said Kale.
"What started out as a missional service to the beach crowd became a third campus of a large UMC congregation. It has grown to be the largest single service, averaging 450 in a church that averaged a total of 2400 people in seven services every Sunday."
Central Waterside Church is a satellite of the Las Vegas, Nevada-based Central Christian Church, which hopes to found several congregations along the American coast similar to Kale's. In 2012, attendance at W@W was not the largest service of the church, according to multiple sources.
Last month, Kale opted to resign from the UMC after he was appointed by the bishop of the United Methodist Church Alabama West Florida Conference to another church. "They told me how good this was going to be for my career and what kind of raise I was going to get. It was very corporate and institutional. This appointment was as far from the coastline as possible and still within the bounds of the annual conference," said Kale.
"If the appointment had been for another coastal town, I might have had to struggle with my calling and the possibility of being able to answer it by creating a new W@W type church in that new town."
The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon, the Pensacola District Superintendent, told CP that Kale officially resigned Tuesday, April 23. "We wish nothing but the best for Mr. Kale and his family as they move forward," said Pridgeon, who was Kale's former superintendent.
"All United Methodist ministers understand in their ordination vows that they agree to go where they are appointed by the bishop to serve. There are rare occasions where ministers feel they can no longer keep that vow."
Lester Spencer, senior pastor at Kale's former church Gulf Breeze UMC, told CP that he respected Kale's decision to leave but felt it was a long time coming. "He was offered an excellent appointment by our Bishop at one of the top churches in our Conference; therefore, I do not believe that his decision was related to the appointment or the appointment process," said Spencer.
"By his own public admission, Jack has been considering this decision to leave the UMC for quite some time."
Regarding his present position with CWC, Kale said that he was "excited about the future of Central Waterside churches being started up and down the coastal U.S."
"God is moving in a church without walls where people are already comfortable. People who will never go to a regular church will go to a beach bar church," said Kale.
"I think that beach bar and restaurant based worship centers are the future for Christian worship settings and I am excited to be leading the way with Central Waterside!"
Correction: Tuesday, May 7, 2013:
An article on Monday, May 7, 2012, about a former UMC pastor serving a new beach bar located church incorrectly stated that Jack Kale had founded Worship at the Water and it was the largest of the services for Gulf Breeze UMC. According to multiple sources connected to Gulf Breeze, Worship at the Water had existed for several years before Kale served at it and in 2012 attendance at W@W was not the largest of the services.