In 1971, a few couples in Central Florida felt they were not being spiritually fed by their home churches. Starving for genuine fellowship and a type of Biblical teaching that was newly introduced by Campus Crusade for Christ, these couples accepted an invitation from Howard Powell to attend a Sunday night Bible study. Held in a red barn in Chuluota, this study began with four to five people with a mutual longing to know Jesus Christ more personally, and a desire to be filled with, walk in, and live by the power of the Holy Spirit each day. This group also shared a concern for the needs of others, especially in bringing the lost to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, which was based on Colossians 3:11: “In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Christ is what matters, and he is equally available to all (Living Bible).”
The group began to consider starting a non-denominational, Bible teaching church that would be open to anyone willing to attend. As this was during the Vietnam War era of the hippies, long hair, bare feet, and ragged clothes, it was the group’s desire to begin a church that would feel welcoming and comfortable for all, a church like none other in the Orlando area. The group’s concern was not for creating a new format for worship, but for a sincere desire to open an inviting place to learn, love, listen, and sing praise to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When it came time to name the church, a member of the group suggested “Circle” because it was all-encompassing, had no beginning or end, and didn’t contain any breaking points. Circle Community Church was incorporated in the State of Florida on November 17, 1971 and was granted federal tax exemption status in February, 1972 by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
The Middle Years
Circle transitioned through several meeting locations as it continued to grow and develop. The group first moved from the barn to the home of Jim Morgan, where the young church really “rocked” the neighborhood with singing and worship on Sunday mornings. Circle then began meeting at the YMCA, first in a large room upstairs, then in a downstairs gymnasium when the attendance exceeded the room’s capacity (latecomers had started to crowd into the lobby to listen to the service through the P.A. system!). However, the preparations necessary to use this community space (laying down canvas on the floor, setting up chairs, etc.), and further growth eventually made a venue with more facilities desirable. In 1974, Circle transitioned to the Orlando Garden Club where the group had the opportunity to “departmentalize” by offering multiple Sunday school classes. Circle remained at the Garden Club until the fellowship grew so large that it was feared that the roses would be trampled!
Thanks to a gracious invitation from All Saints Episcopal Church, Circle next used this church’s facilities in Winter Park, including the Sunday School rooms that were greatly needed. Here, coordination of worship schedules resulted in a shift to evening services. In 1975, an opportunity to utilize the Seventh Day Adventist Church building, just off Park Lake in Orlando, offered Circle a chance to move its services and classes back to Sundays. After one more relocation to the Myrick office building (710 East Colonial Drive, Orlando) in 1978, Circle was finally ready to move into its own facility!
“Dedication Sunday” was held on June 29, 1980 for the first property purchased in the name of Circle Community Church at 3300 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL 32804. The property consisted of several buildings used by various businesses, restructured to become a main worship center and office with the “out” buildings used for nursery and Sunday School classrooms. By the early 1990’s the church family outgrew the available Sunday School rooms, and were given the use of classrooms at adjoining Edgewater High School. After fifteen years, it became clear that it was time for Circle to relocate again. In 1995, the Circle property was purchased by the Orange County School Board to expand Edgewater High School. The Edgewater High School cafeteria became an interim home for Circle until the church was able to prepare its new property and make its final move.
With the guidance of a Future Facilities Committee, Circle Community Church purchased land at 2200 Pembrook Drive, Orlando, FL 32810, near the Maitland/I-4 interchange on May 30th, 1996. Construction of current church building began the following April, and the first worship service took place on Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998! The Dedication Sunday Service was held on May 3, 1998, with a Grand Opening celebration the day before to introduce the church to the surrounding community.
Circle has been blessed by history of wonderful pastors. Our current pastor, Rev. Ron Hoffmann, has followed Rev. Bob Ross, Rev. Wayland Stephens, Dr. Alfred Warren, and Rev. John Woodall.
Our current leadership team consists of six elders, five deacons, one part time administrative assistant/secretary, one part-time bookkeeper, and about fifteen ministry leaders. With a strong leadership team and a body of dedicated believers, we anticipate continued growth as we see people from our community visiting and deciding to join and participate in our church family. Please check us out! We would love to meet you.