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How one church and its pastor inspire its members to give back

Under Rev. Brock Patterson’s leadership, Longboat Island Chapel continues to offer vital support to area outreaches — with grace and a touch of humor.

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  • | 10:00 a.m. January 31, 2024
Rev. Brock Patterson found his perfect fit at Longboat Island Chapel.
Rev. Brock Patterson found his perfect fit at Longboat Island Chapel.
Photo by Harry Sayer
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Before Rev. Brock Patterson became the lead pastor of Longboat Island Chapel, he served for 10 years as the founder and lead pastor of FaithSpring Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. When that fellowship merged with another, he decided to take a sabbatical. After a few years on the sidelines, Patterson was ready to resume his ministry. Why not minister in warmer climes? But which subtropical church was seeking a beach pastor?

A Google search brought up Longboat Island Chapel. It shared his open-door policy and commitment to philanthropy and community involvement. As an added plus, the chapel was in a beach community. Although Patterson had never heard of Longboat Key, after doing his research and speaking to the chapel’s board, he thought it was a perfect fit. The chapel’s board clearly agreed — it chose him over the 344 other applicants. In late 2020, Patterson loaded up his truck and moved to Longboat Key with his faithful dog, Pippa, right by his side. He’s been moving the chapel forward ever since. How does he describe that journey?

“I arrived on Longboat Key with little knowledge of the community’s needs or what resources we could draw on to support individuals and organizations,” Patterson says. “I’ve been blessed to serve this chapel for three years now. I have some measure of knowledge today. It’s thanks to the selfless, committed, giving people who’ve been at my side.”

After three years of chapel leadership, Patterson’s knowledge isn’t theoretical. Philanthropy is more than a philosophical principle now. It’s part of his daily job. 

Stillpoint Mission is one of Longboat Island Chapel’s key charitable partners.

“The work Stillpoint does is vital to our community,” says Patterson, explaining that Franciscan Sister Nora Brick (aka “the Mother Theresa of Bradenton”) founded Stillpoint Mission in 1998. He notes that her aim was to provide basic supplemental assistance to migrant families, the poor and the homeless. And it has been supplying clothing, diapers, hygiene items, home goods, children’s books and financial assistance to the community ever since.

Longboat Island Chapel’s “Support the Girls” campaign provides bras for Turning Point Missions.
Photo by Harry Sayer

Patterson adds that Longboat Island Chapel helps Stillpoint do this good work “in any way we can. Our focused monthly drives are our most visible means of support. These supply specific items that people need.”

That sounds like serious business. But the chapel’s monthly Stillpoint support campaigns take a lighthearted, creative approach. “Sock It To ’Em and Tie ’Em Up” was one recent drive. (The drive’s witty title refers to socks and shoelaces, not fisticuffs.) Other jocular titles include: “Baby it’s Cold Outside” (a winter quest for coats and sweaters); “Wipe It Clean" (toilet paper); “Carry Me Home” (equipping foster children with duffel bags); and “Sunday Undies" (a call for underwear).

The comical shift occurred in tandem with Patterson’s arrival. As Karen Pashkow, a member of the chapel’s charitable outreach committee for five years, explains: “We used to have monthly donations for a particular charity, but after we had a change in clergy about three years ago, congregant Lesley Rife and I started making posters — for example, coming up with funny slogans like ‘Sunday Undies’ to collect underwear,” Pashkow says.

Patterson stresses that these examples are part of a long list. “The chapel’s been helping Stillpoint every year for more than 20 years,” he says. “Our support goes on throughout the year.”

Helping the Stillpoint Mission team help others is always the goal of these drives. 

And the dedicated people on that team have noticed.

Gene Tischer is one of them. As the president of Stillpoint Mission, he relies on the chapel’s generosity.

“Longboat Island Chapel’s campaigns have provided tremendous support for our clients,” Tischer says. “We serve over 400 families a week. The chapel helps us serve them. That’s truly been a blessing.”

As Patterson sees it, charitable results matter most. Philanthropy isn’t about you. The help you give to others is the point. That said, the act of giving transforms the giver.

Pashkow agrees. “We do visits to the charities we help,” she says. “And when you go out and see where the collections are going and how they’re helping people, it really brings it all home about how lucky we are and how important it is to help others.”

The chapel’s philanthropy doesn’t end with Stillpoint.

Patterson says in the past year, the chapel has also assisted shelters, a foster agency, municipalities and other nonprofits. 

Patterson adds that education is another philanthropic priority. “Our college scholarship program is a lifeline for local high school graduates. Schools and education-related providers are always in need. Budgets are often strained in our local educational system. It’s imperative that the chapel stand in the gap.”

The chapel does a lot of good under Patterson’s leadership. To be fair, he’s leading a highly motivated team with a network of connections and resources. How much good could a single individual do?

“Plenty of needs exist in our community,” Patterson said. “If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t need to look too far.”


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