Advertisement
  1. News

Whitman: Wilkebins share passion for teaching at Lifesong Church in New Tampa

Pastors Svend and Katy Wilbekin are the husband and wife team who lead Lifesong Church in New Tampa. [Photo courtesy of Lifesong Church]
Pastors Svend and Katy Wilbekin are the husband and wife team who lead Lifesong Church in New Tampa. [Photo courtesy of Lifesong Church]
Published Jun. 12, 2019

Pastors Svend and Katy Wilbekin share a passion for teaching.

The husband and wife team, who lead Lifesong Church in New Tampa, spent more than 20 years reaching youth at the Rock Church of Gainesville.

Svend, who also coached basketball at Santa Fe College, worked as a teen and college pastor. Katy taught at the Rock's private school. In a town famous for party life, the couple raised and home-schooled their three boys.

Scottie and Mitchell Wilbekin, now 26 and 24, play professional basketball overseas. The Wilbekin's youngest son, Andrew, 22, attends Husson University.

In 2016, the Wilbekins arrived in Tampa as empty nesters. Under the direction of the Rock, they opened Lifesong on property previously owned by Temple Ohev Shalom. The Wilbekin's redesigned the interior, worked on landscaping and put up a sign.

Business cards featuring a photo of Svend, who is black, and Katy, who is white, circulated the neighborhood.

"If you look at our picture, it's probably easy to assume our church is going to be diverse," Svend Wilbekin said. "That's important to us."

Lifesong held its first service Nov. 5, 2016. The church quickly attracted families living nearby. The congregation remains modest. About 100 people attended Easter Sunday programs.

Members, who volunteer as tech managers and worship singers, love each other like family, Katy Wilbekin said. "When church is over on Sundays, no one leaves right away."

In September, Lifesong will open its own preschool, Lifesong Kids. Katy Wilbekin, whose educational experience spans two decades, will act as director. The school will begin enrolling children from infancy up to 24 months in late July.

"We want to serve families in the area by providing a safe and loving Christian environment," Wilbekin said.

Everything from small class sizes to a turf playground will reflect the Wilbekin commitment to education excellence, she said.

Space will be limited but Lifesong plans to expand the school one age level per year.

"We wouldn't be opening this school if Katy wasn't leading it," Svend Wilbekin said. "I trust her vision. I know it will be the very best."

Lifesong Kids is currently accepting applications for teacher positions. Applicants should supply a resume and references. Assistants are also needed.

Lifesong Church meets 10 a.m. Sundays at 6460 Tampa Palms Blvd. For more information or to set up a tour, visit www.lifesongtampa.org.

Contact Sarah Whitman at sarahrothwhitman@gmail.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Pirate beads reading "Gasparilla" for sale at a store in Tampa in 2006. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Who should own ‘Gasparilla’? Is it the krewe behind the parade? A beauty pageant? Or the people?
  2. Bank OZK CEO and chairman George Gleason, left, and managing director Greg Newman are photographed at the OZK Wynwood branch in Miami on November 13, 2019. [CARL JUSTE | Miami Herald] [Carlt Juste | Miami Herald]
    In fact, Bank OZK has emerged as a powerhouse in commercial lending generally.
  3. A scooter rider navigates Platt Street on Friday morning during the calm before the storm — successive weekends of downtown Gasparilla parades. Scooter companies like Jump warn users it’s a violation of their rental agreement to operate one while under the influence. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    One company decided to pull its scooters Jan. 25 ‘out of an abundance of caution for riders and those participating in Gasparilla.’
  4. Flooding from an October king tide in Miami Shores fills streets, sidewalks and driveways at its peak. [Miami Herald]
    And it could lose up to 35 percent of its value by 2050, according to a new report.
  5. Photographer Griff Davis captured the first meeting of Vice President Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr. and their wives, Patricia Nixon and Coretta Scott King, on Independence Day in Accra, Ghana on March 7, 1957. [Courtesy of Griffith J. Davis Photographs & Archives]
    A famed photographer captured Martin Luther King Jr. and Nixon in a conversation that was incendiary at the time.
  6. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  7. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  8. A former Hillsborough sheriff's detective has filed a lawsuit claiming the Sheriff's Office discriminated against him because of his attention deficit disorder. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Demetrius Dixon was a corporal who sought a promotion to sergeant but was instead forced to retire early, the lawsuit says.
  9. In this Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, speaks to reporters outside the West Wing in Washington. President Donald Trump's legal team will include Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general, former Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the former independent counsel who led the Whitewater investigation into President Bill Clinton, according to a person familiar with the matter. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) [J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP]
    The former Florida attorney general reportedly will join former Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton.
  10. For the latest breaking news, check tampabay.com [Tampa Bay Times]
    Three men are facing human smuggling charges in federal courts in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement