The following is an historical account of Terrace Palms Community Church by its founding pastor Billy Hires. Pastor Hires led the congregation for nearly 20 years. At the end of March 2012 he and wife Donna followed the Lord’s call into full-time world missions and Mike Porrata succeeded him as pastor.
I grew up in Tampa and ultimately became a professional musician in this area. In January of 1974, at the age of twenty-one, while I was making my living playing drums in bars and nightclubs, the Lord found me, hit me over the head with His “heavenly baseball bat”, and I became a Christian. In fact, my entire band became believers! For six years, our band traveled the country playing contemporary Christian music in churches and coffee houses as a band called Chalice.
In 1979, I married my wonderful wife Donna and soon after felt that the Lord was calling me out of music ministry and into youth ministry. So I left the band and went to Southeastern Bible College in Lakeland, Florida. Shortly thereafter, I was hired as the youth Pastor at Pine Castle United Methodist Church in Orlando. Donna and I served at Pine Castle for five wonderful years. Then we came back to Tampa and I took up a position as the Associate Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church for another five years.
About that time, the Lord led Donna and I to plant Terrace Palms and the very first service was held on July 12, 1992 in the clubhouse of Summit West Apartments in Temple Terrace. We rented an apartment that we used as an office and children’s ministry location and Sunday school. It was also a place to store our sound system and chairs because we had to set up and tear down for Sunday service in the clubhouse each week! We only had about six families in the beginning, which amounted to about 25-30 people in attendance on a good Sunday.
In April of 1993, we moved from our Summit West location to a storefront on 56th Street, just south of the River. We spent six years there where we really grew as a church, spiritually and physically. During that time, we raised the money and purchased the present property free and clear in 1998. Then, after raising funds through a bond program, we constructed the present building and held our very first service where we are now on February 7, 1999.
And here we are today! God has made me a steward of everything I have and I can’t ever forget that it’s all His and He’s given it to me so that I can be a faithful minister. He’s given me knowledge so that I can minister to my brothers and sisters in their spiritual condition. He’s given me great resources so that I can live a simple life and use what He’s given me to bless others.
So what kind of church is Terrace Palms? I grew up in a Methodist church in Temple Terrace. After becoming a believer, I attended a Baptist church. My education ranges from southeastern (assembly of God) to Baptist seminary (Luther Rice) and all kinds of other influences along the way. Therefore, theologically, in relation to what we believe biblically, we are right now very close to Presbyterians. We have a very high view of the sovereignty of God. We are not Christians because we choose God, but because God chose us. He is the Lord of salvation. Therefore, we have a reformed view of theology.
We are a non-denominational church, but not independent. We have a very great commitment to be dependent and submitted to Jesus Christ as the head of His church. By non-denominational, we mean we are not officially affiliated with any other denominations or any other organized groups. However, we have elders in this church and we are accountable to one another and we do our best to keep relationships with other churches in the area and various missions organizations.
I pray that this brief overview of Terrace Palms Community Church’s history, vision, and purpose will help you in your decision as to whether this church is where you believe God intends you to worship Him and serve Him and lay your life down for Him.
In His Service,