Situated on the edge of Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay was just a small town in Central Florida in the late 70s. There were not even two thousand Chinese in the whole Tampa Bay area – including Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. By then, the University of South Florida was only established with a short history of about twenty years. There were only a small group of Chinese students at USF. As the Chinese gradually gathered together, several families felt the need to start a Bible study group, a regular Friday night Bible study group was thus emerged in 1979. From the 80s, the group started to rent USF as the regular meeting place.
By the grace of God, the group formally registered as Chinese Christian Church of Tampa Bay Area, Florida in the state of Florida in 1982. From then on, regular Sunday worship services were held on Sunday afternoons with the help of different pastors. The size of the congregation grew, among them were the USF students and their families. We finally joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination and changed our name to Chinese Christian Alliance of Tampa Bay Area, Florida in October, 1989; and we moved to rent the place of First Alliance Church of Tampa for our meetings.
January 1st, 1990, Rev. David Fung, from Canada, was called to serve as our pastor. God was good to us, He gave us more people and the offering received from brothers and sister in Christ was boosting up. By 1992, we were financially independent; the regular Sunday attendance was above a hundred; and our membership exceeded 60. In 1994, we bought the present church building from First Alliance Church of Tampa, and began to own our own church property.
Rev. Fung left to California by the end of 1994; Rev. Wallace Mang was called to serve as our pastor from June, 1995. From October 1995 to August 1997, we have Mr. Robert Miller as our Youth Coordinator to minister our second generation. With the addition of Cantonese Service in January, 1996, we started to develop the ministry of the Cantonese speaking people in the Bay area. Rev. Mang left at the end of December, 2002. The Chinese Worship Service became bi-lingual with interpretations between Mandarin and Cantonese.
Rev. Geoffrey Yong was called to serve as our pastor from June, 2003. In July, 2003, the English Worship Service started. In March, 2005, God sent Rev. Samuel Seaman to serve as our English Ministry Pastor leading the English Ministry to another level. Rev. Seaman left at the end of June, 2009. The English Ministry suffered a little. God is faithful. His Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of brothers and sisters. Many started voluntarily to serve in different capacities at the church. Rev. Yong also left us at the end of September, 2011.
Our church membership is currently 140. The regular Sunday attendance is about 150. The regular meetings to fit the needs of people in the congregation include: English Worship Service, Mandarin/Cantonese Worship Service, Youth Worship Service, Children Service; Sunday Schools in Mandarin, Cantonese, English for the adults; Youth Sunday School and Children Sunday School. We also have prayer meeting every Sunday morning and Choir practice every Sunday afternoon. During weekdays, there are Caleb Fellowship, Family Fellowship, Sister Fellowship, College Student Christian Fellowship, Cantonese Bible Study Group, New Tampa Fellowship and TeenTime. In 2011, we also have short term missions to the Bahamas, and one-to-one Gospel to the restaurant and market workers. God’s grace is abundant!
The population of Chinese in the Tampa Bay Area has been growing to nearly 10,000. There are hundreds, or nearly 1000 Chinese students, scholars and their families coming from China and Southeast Asia, and studying at USF and other colleges. They, especially those from China, are enthusiastic toward searching for meaning in life and exploring their faith in Christianity. We pray that God will continue bless and use us, so that the Chinese Christian Alliance Church of Tampa Bay Area will be a place where people will find meaning and solace in life, a pipe through which the Gospel is sent to China, and a participating servant in His great plan of “Back to Jerusalem.”