Bayshore Baptist Church recently cancelled its contemporary Sunday morning worship service.
The church's members, young and not-so-young, prefer traditional music and preaching, says senior pastor Alex Gallimore.
Gallimore, 31, came to work at Bayshore Baptist in spring 2016. The church, founded in 1926, enlisted him to bridge the gap between generations in the congregation. Gallimore, a Georgia-born Baptist and graduate of Wake Forest Divinity School, accepted the challenge.
"I am really excited to pastor this church today but I am even more excited to pastor this church as it's going to be in 10 years," Gallimore said.
I spoke to Gallimore, who lives in Ballast Point with his wife Allison and 2-year-old son Abram, about looking back to build a better tomorrow.
Growing up in Atlanta, did you intend to pursue ministry?
I started feeling a discerning call into ministry around age 17. I studied comparative religion at Georgia State. At the time, I didn't think I wanted to do ministry in the traditional way, I thought maybe I would be a professor. But the more I studied world religions and the history of Christianity, the more I wanted to be a part of reclaiming and re-purposing my faith.
What brought you to Bayshore Baptist?
I led a congregation for four years in North Carolina. I liked the possibility of pastoring a city church with a big steeple, one that strives to be present in the community and have a missions-based identity. Bayshore fit with my passions. Bayshore has been part of this community for a long time. I thought, what does this mean in the 21st century? How can we breathe new life into what we are doing here?
We are a church with four generations spread out nicely in the congregation. We have the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials all mixed together. The Gen X and Millenials with kids is our largest group.
How do you balance it out and make everyone happy?
I don't know if I do but it is one of my favorite things about the church. There is a strong energy from the young people and I love to hear old stories about Bayshore. At Bayshore there are people in their 70s, 20s and 30s, all committed to connecting people to God and others, all believers rolling up their sleeves and doing something. It's fun to be in my place and be able to watch that.
Bayshore is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Church? Did you grow up in the denomination?
We are the only Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Church in the Tampa area. It's a more middle-ground progressive Baptist experience. The church allows members to bring their thinking minds to the faith.
I grew up Southern Baptist. In college I bounced around all corners of Christianity. I realized the Southern Baptist Convention no longer reflected my life and beliefs. Then I discovered Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. They affirm women in ministry as equals with men. They welcome intelligent inquiry and discourse. They aren't happy with just easy answers and are willing to ask difficult questions.
Who I was is who Bayshore Baptist was. Bayshore originally belonged to the SBC and when it took a more conservative fundamentalist direction, Bayshore left, in 1993. The church works across denominational lines. Only about half the congregation grew up Baptist.
Can you picture your son growing up attending Bayshore?
When we were looking for a long term appointment, that was definitely one of the things that drew us to Bayshore. It is a place not just for me to pastor but where Abram can receive guidance in his own faith journey.
Like I said, I am excited about being pastor now, at this time and at this place, but I am even more excited about what it is going to be 10 or 20 years from now. This is absolutely where I want to be.
Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]