After the past two years, many people and families in the community are looking for a place to connect with God and with people, and Pastor Ellis Benton may have the place you’re looking for. He launched Just Church at Newsome High School in January, and since then the congregation has continued to grow in fellowship.
Statistically, nearly 75 percent of the community doesn’t attend church regularly, but they want to connect with others in a meaningful way. With more people moving into the area each month, there may be a large contingency of families that are looking for a place to meet and fellowship.
Benton was raised in the church and knew his calling into full-time ministry at an early age. He began by volunteering at his home church in Oregon and eventually became the youth pastor.
“I completed the course of study (educational requirements for ordination in the Nazarene) at Nazarene Bible College during that time,” said Benton. “I quickly felt God calling us to church planting.”
Benton and his family moved to the Brandon area from Medford, Oregon in January 2021.
“We didn’t know anybody here but were just following the open doors God had for us,” said Benton. “We are in the Nazarene denomination of churches, so the Florida District Church of the Nazarene contacted us to see if we’d be willing to come plant a church in Brandon.”
After a series of community outreaches, Benton connected with many neighbors and members of the community that joined him as part of the Just Church launch team. Partnering with Newsome High School to provide a place of worship was also the perfect fit.
“It’s a much more daunting endeavor to show up to an established church building for someone who doesn’t go to church than it is to go to the local high school or community center,” said Benton. “Newsome High School has been incredible to work with. They are professional and kind. We are lucky to be partnering with them.”
According to Benton, Just Church wants to keep it simple.
“No gimmicks, no hoops to jump through, no political agenda, just people serving people, just the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Just Church meets every Sunday at 10 a.m. at Newsome High School, located at 16650 Fishhawk Blvd. in Lithia. For more information, follow Just Church on Facebook or visit http://www.just.church/.