What We Are
Odessa Community Church is a nondenominational church of Jesus Christ. We aim to exist in similar form to the early Christian communities in the book of Acts. Many brilliant people over time have interpreted certain biblical concepts or time frames differently from one another, creating countless denominations and orders, with one all too often claiming another is too different with which to break bread, worship, or call family, even when the differences are essentially meaningless to salvation or the glorification of the Lord.
We believe in study, prayer, and rightly dividing for oneself with the divine, personal illumination of a genuinely evident and intimate, working and loving relationship with God. Sure, there are solid, quintessential matters that make us suitable disciples of Jesus Christ, and J.D. will preach those “in season or out”, unwavering, per 2 Timothy 4. There is only one truth in any matter, but Christ is ultimately our only true Shepherd, not people, and so we can seek truth together, under Him, rather than following divergent human beings farther and farther away from each other. Secular colleagues commonly agree to disagree about fine points, with a confident smile and relative solidarity overall, and we can, too. When it comes to dogmatic bones of contention in Christendom, Pastor occasionally “dares” to dignify multiple exegetical possibilities, instead of just one, and examines the support for each, in an effort to reunite and study and worship together in the Body of Christ.
We hold our services in a quaint, friendly (if not ekklesia-like) building on what, to Tampa, is an unknown back road but what is, to Odessa, is a well-known, little stretch connecting many communities between Lutz Lake Fern Road, Sate Road 54, and Gunn Highway. We are sharing the building at 1627 Chesapeake Drive with Alcoholics Anonymous on different schedules. Pastor is happily married to his wife of 15+ years but is also in a serious relationship with his digital presentation projector and pointer. We endeavor to benefit the community with spiritual well-being, charity and good will, advancement of the Word of God, worship, fellowship, to provoke thought, and to have all ages leave his weekly services refreshed, close to God, and reasonably entertained!
How Odessa Community Church
Came into Being
The providential circumstances that led to the formation of Odessa Community Church have, in themselves, been a testament to God moving in this endeavor. Doors of opportunity were flung delightfully open, as if by the force of some invisible juggernaut, extraordinary relationships were forged, and serendipitous blessings aligned in a distinctly unprecedented manner as we, the founders, determined to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Theses circumstances were certainly not orchestratred by us, alone.
The Odessa Community Church plant grew out of a Christian radio ministry.
J.D. and Tina Burris originally began a modest, economical shortwave radio series which was, due to the niche nature of shortwave radio, available primarily only to die-hard American and European radio hobbyists and the few, remaining listeners who still scan such unusual frequencies specifically for Christian content. Listening requires special radios with bands far more common in the USA decades ago, with a small renewal of interest lately due to the recent availability of inexpensive Software Defined Radios. Even when preaching over shortwave, air time can be prohibitively expensive for folks with a modest income, but the Lord’s hand put J.D. in touch with WBCQ and Allan Weiner of “Free Radio” broadcasting fame, who provided him with an affordable time slot as a favor, and broadcast Jeff’s bible readings and commentary out of Maine and into various states and even Eastern Europe on good days. This was how RadioMinistry began (RadioMinistry.org).
It was a fair attempt, but as the months passed, it seemed evident that very few people were being reached. Where it led, though, would change the course of J.D. & Tina’s overall ministry dramatically.
As J.D. progressed in his collegiate ministry training, bible readings expanded into sermons, classroom-style bible study discussions, guest speaker appearances, and more, including RadioMinistry’s “Bible at the Beach Show”. RadioMinistry picked up bible reading and musical volunteers, and the ministry began setting its sights on getting the Word of God into countries where Christianity is scarce, oppressed, or even persecuted. We researched, located, and reached out to operators of powerful radio transmitters reaching faraway shores. We knew we faced language barriers, being lost in recipients’ overstuffed mailboxes, we gasped at overwhelming costs of air time. Other apparently insurmountable challenges faced RadioMinistry in our prayerful search how to reach out internationally to brothers and sisters we knew yearn to hear Christian programming – people whom we knew actively scan the radio to find and huddle around program, often lacking a bible or even frightened to own one.
In November 2018, to our astonishment, praise God, Bible at the Beach was accepted into the programming lineup at Voice of Hope’s primary English-speaking region, that of Africa. While we are indebted to Ray Robinson for making this happen, it was surely under an act of God. Not only did everyone else featured on Voice of Hope have more experience in broadcast radio, delivering sermons, or even pastoring churches than J.D., but this development moved RadioMinistry’s programs to an entirely different scale of listeners in countries all across Africa and beyond. Not only did Voice of Hope’s Africa region feature two transmitters with a total output of four times that of WBCQ, but this moved RadioMinistry’s “Bible at the Beach” shortwave programs to regions where shortwave is still very commonly used in everyday households and comes as a featured band on typical radios and boom boxes in stores everywhere. Many Africans still depend every day upon the long-distance characteristics of shortwave radio for many practical reasons and, in fact, RadioMinistry now receives listener reports from all over the world on days of extra favorable radio wave propagation conditions, from Finland to Florida.
It was a natural progression, after this, to meet a number of additional believers who were interested in climbing on board RadioMinistry and offering their skills and experience.
During all this time, while RadioMinistry was being formed and growing, Jeff had transferred his local college transcript to bible college and was finishing a degree in divinity. After several years of courses, bible study, prayer, and extensive vetting and extracurricular ministry activity, Jeff was ordained in a joint event between college, Brister Temple Church, and mentor Henry Reyenga of Christian Leaders College who flew in for the ordination ceremony, having just completed a tour in Africa where Jeff’s programs were featured.
With a few more faithful brothers and sisters in Christ involved with RadioMinistry, combined with the experienced pastoral and church-planting mentors Jeff accumulated through school and RadioMinistry, a half dozen people united through this organization took on the task of developing a church entity with which to plant a church in Odessa, Florida.
The official red tape, legal, and administrative affairs and procedures required in order to properly organize a reasonably unassailable church in the eyes of various levels of government can be daunting seem rather godless, but alas — all of those core requirements are complete, thanks to God, Christian Leaders College, 1980’s high school alumni who became nonprofit professionals, and the generous availability of our many qualified consultants who believed in and supported us.
Odessa Community Church is now a ready, little church plant that has been properly organized with extensive help from experienced experts, pastors and church planters who remain available to, with God, help guide Odessa Community Church through any curve balls and challenges yet ahead.
Local church services begin/began August 11, 2019, out of the otherwise closed and locked Odessa Community Center at 1627 Chesapeake Drive, lovingly sharing it at different hours with one of the area’s most faith-oriented Alcoholics Anonymous groups, and we will likely continue congregating there until we either outgrow it and rent a larger building, or we can afford to erect the new church building planned for our own, already paid-for property, appropriately zoned, just a short bicycle ride away, near the intersection of Gunn Hwy. & SR 54.
Please Join us!
2:00-3:00 PM Sundays (open from 1:30-3:30)
Check our schedule for additional times, events, and activities