Ruskin native returns home to plant church, revitalize community

Published Oct. 8, 2015

When his ministry career began, pastor Joey Adkins envisioned someday opening a church in his hometown of Ruskin.

On Sunday, Adkins' dream becomes a reality with the opening of Wellspring Community Church at 705 Ninth St. SE.

Adkins, 34, grew up in east Hillsborough where he attended Ruskin Christian School. He later went to bible college in Mississippi before returning to Tampa and serving at the Crossing Church.

This summer, he left the Crossing to open Wellspring, a startup adventure with his wife and high school sweetheart, April.

The first meetings of Wellspring took place at an open space in Palmetto. About 250 people drove the extra distance to attend services June through September. Meanwhile, Adkins purchased a Ruskin property, an old church building formerly St. John's Divine Episcopal Church, and began renovations. The property, built in 1965, now includes a repainted sanctuary, youth room, multipurpose room and modern decor.

Adkins said he intends to do more than offer people another option for Sunday mornings. The church will partner with several local nonprofit organizations, including the Lighthouse and Mary & Martha House. He and April, who now teaches at Ruskin Christian, plan to volunteer time and resources.

"SouthShore doesn't need another church, it needs a church that can impact the community," he said. "The area needs a makeover. It needs somebody to come in and care for it. We want to pour into the community and make it better."

Currently, Wellspring operates with two staff members and more than 100 volunteers. The congregation includes new faces, Adkins' 20-plus family members from the area and longtime friends. Attendees include families, singles and seniors.

Adkins, who coaches basketball at Ruskin Christian where his 11-year-old son and 4-year-old twins also attend school, said he wants people living in the area to stay put, not move away.

"I want people to know they can stay right here and have everything they need," he said.

He likes seeing new construction in the community and hopes homebuyers will visit Wellspring.

The church will host its grand opening services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday. The day will include giveaways for children and adults. For more information, visit

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