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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Carrollwood pastor builds on faith, future

CARROLLWOOD In 1982, - Kenneth Klassen was satisfied being the pastor at his church in California. Then he got the call. A small church in Tampa was in need of a pastor. Klassen’s father-in-law was associated with the Robert Schuller’s Reformed Church in America and put in a good word at the small Tampa Bay Community Church. And Klassen, well … “I didn’t pay any attention,” Klassen said. “I was happy where I was.”
Then Klassen’s father-in-law told his daughter about the opening in Tampa. “He told her all about it and she said we were moving to Tampa,” Klassen said. But it wasn’t that easy. “I prayed and then I prayed some more,” Klassen said. “All of a sudden it hit me that, even though it was crazy, I belonged in Tampa.” Klassen has been the pastor at the Tampa Bay Community Church ever since. It’s located on Moran Road, just off of Fletcher Avenue in Tampa, but if you blink you might drive right past it. Sometimes the gatherings are large and sometimes there are fewer than 50 people – and Klassen doesn’t mind a bit. “I am not a pastor,” Klassen said. “I am a shepherd. I doesn’t matter how many people are here, all that matters is that they are here.” When Klassen first saw his future church, it wasn’t exactly the Vatican. It needed some work, but Klassen was determined. He knew he needed a new location and found some property available on Moran Road that he thought would be perfect. But the big problem – the land cost about $45,000, and Klassen was a little short of that figure.   “I didn’t have it,” he said. “All I could do was pray. Within six months I was able to raise the money and we had more than 350 people at the first service. We even had people on the outside looking through the windows.” It hasn’t always been an easy ride. Klassen, who said he is ready to build a larger building, saw his congregation fall to around 25 people on Sundays. Still, he never gave up his dreams. “Lazarus rose from the dead,” Klassen said. “If I had let this church die, and I thought about it at least 50 times, where would we be? It doesn’t matter how many people attend your church. We are here to build big people, not a big church. It isn’t the size of the church, it’s the size of the heart that matters the most.” As for Klassen, he performs his services without an ego and doesn’t want the focus on himself. “I am just here to pray with people,” Klassen said. “Nobody comes here to hear my sermon. They come here to meet God.”
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