For at least 10 years, a number of families on the Key Peninsula have been praying for a Church of The Nazarene to open in this community, according to Home resident Robin Hyde, whose Key To Life Church of the Nazarene celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 14.
Hyde, who has been a pastor since 1987, began his ministry in Orange County, Calif. and lead a church in San Bernardino for several years.
“We had a soup kitchen out of the church and all the people you wouldn’t expect to see in church became my congregation,” he said.
But Hyde’s family had roots on the Key and he spent many summers here. “My dad was born and raised in Longbranch and my mom’s family summered in Home,” he said.
In 2000 Hyde and his wife, Sonja, bought land on the Peninsula and early this year they made the move from Southern California.
It was a logical place to start a new congregation, he said, and he quickly secured support from the Gig Harbor church, which held a special “sending-off service” for Hyde and his small flock of followers in early August.
“We started meeting at our house and at other people’s houses and I started inquiring about different places that would be suitable for a weekly Sunday meeting,” Hyde said. “The Red Barn quickly rose to the top and I contacted their board members and they said it would be a good fit. So now we’re the Sunday tenant of the Red Barn.”
Currently, there are approximately 30 members of the Key To Life congregation.
“We’re basically a casual, come-as-you-are type of church and our worship is kind of big on contemporary music; we preach from the Bible and use that as our text. We’re a Bible-believing evangelical church,” Hyde said.
What makes “holiness” churches in general –– and Key to Life Church of the Nazarene in particular –– attractive is that “we’re here to help you understand that God wants you to transform your life and the transformation process includes the demonstration of the reality of being a Christian in today’s culture,” Hyde said.
For instance, he added, he works in a job on the Peninsula “…so I can interact with people who have real needs and real hurts and real wants. So they get to know me, and I build friendships with them and I can show them an alternative to where their life has been going. And once I have earned that right, I start to talk to them about what God wants them to do with their lives,” he said.
Hyde was quick to emphasize that his church is “a group of believers that welcomes everybody. “I don’t want anybody to feel alienated because of their socio-economic status or because of their lifestyle. We want to be known as a faith community that accepts everybody wherever they’re at,” Hyde said.
The grand opening celebration was a good example, with a worship service, barbecue and a visit from a motorcycle group.
Jeremiah Schuler, 18, was in attendance and he said Key To Life of the Nazarene is a great fit for the people of the Key Peninsula.
“I like it, and plan to become very involved with helping provide activities for the youth on the Key Peninsula.
Brenna Lukenvill has been coming from the get-go. She said she was looking for a church closer to home. “The pastor talks and teaches about things that really apply to my life and it seems like he understands what we have all been through,” she said.
Brandon Marten, the Church of the Nazearene district church planting coordinator, also spoke highly about the pastor and the location.
“I have mentored Robin for the past year and was just blown away by his passion. We believe that new churches reach new people, and those who haven’t heard the message can come and establish a new way of helping others,” said Marten during the Sept. 14 celebration.
Marten said pastor Hyde is uniquely suited for the Key Peninsula.
“He has a real past, a place where he has made a lot of the mistakes that many people have made. He’s lived a real life and has experience real forgiveness. I feel that he can identify where people are, and can talk to them in a way they can understand,” he said.
For information, visit keytolifechurch.org.