What began as a Bible study inside the home of Andy and Tanya Ehlers back in 2002, with just 12 people, has now grown to a congregation that needed a permanent place to call home.
After several years of moving around from place to place, the Rev. Andy Ehlers and his High Tide Church members will finally have that permanent home, as they will begin building on 20 acres of land off Nine Foot Road in Dagsboro that was donated to the church back in 2008.
“Our building team has worked hard over the years to design a building that would be affordable yet big enough to be able to get us out of a rental facility,” Ehlers said of the new church building. “Our goal in Phase 1 is to provide worship space for adults, children and youth.”
The church has had several “homes” over the years, having had their first public service at Lord Baltimore Elementary School during the last week of October 2002. They would meet there for about three years, until the school began undergoing renovations.
They would then move to the Roxana Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall, calling that “home” for eight years.
“We really outgrew the place,” Ehlers admitted. “We had to do multiple services and used every square foot they let us use.”
High Tide would then meet at John M. Clayton Elementary School for seven more years.
And then COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like everyone and everything else at the time, Hide Tide had to shutter its services. Then, following many weeks and months without services, High Tide started back up, but moved back into the Roxana fire hall.
“The Roxana fire company has been very helpful through the years,” Ehlers praised. “It has been a blessing to use their building, and to build a relationship with them. I have walked with them through crisis situations, and they have been very generous to our church, supporting our food pantry and children’s events throughout the years.”
A permanent location has been more than just a goal, and certainly it was about more than just having their own building: It was about developing a campaign to help their ever-growing congregation have a place to call home.
The church established the “More Campaign: It’s more than a building.”
“Over the years, we’ve learned the church is not a building, but it’s a group of people,” Ehlers said. “Not having our own building has taught us this valuable lesson. The church is not a place where you go, but rather it is a group of people whose lives have been changed by Jesus.”
Ehlers said that the More Campaign had set out to raise $750,000, and that the church had pledged $890,000. In the first 1.5 years, they have had raised more than $600,000.
“Originally, the project was expected to come in at $1.8 million,” said Ehlers. “With rising prices due to COVID-19, state and county regulations,” he said,, “the project will come in closer to $2.5 million — which is amazing, because with the donation of the land and other services that have been donated, this project would cost closer to $4 million.”
And again, it is about more than just a building.
“It really is more than a building,” Ehlers emphasized. “Over the past 19 years, we’ve seen a lot of lives changed as a result of the ministry at High Tide Church. We’ve seen massive growth with young families with children and teenagers, which has been the heartbeat of the church from Day 1, trying to reach the next generation for Christ.
“It’s been amazing that we’ve been able to be a church for so long without our own building. Our congregation has sacrificed time and energy to make this possible every week, setting up and taking down. Over the past year and a half, I’ve seen them sacrifice financially to help make this dream become a reality. We couldn’t do it without our generous donors and givers.”
High Tide Church offers church services and youth-ministry programs to the Coastal Delaware towns of Dagsboro, Frankford, Roxana, Ocean View, Millsboro, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island and their environs. Their services continue to take place on Sundays at the Roxana fire hall, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. They currently offer their church services in person, as well as on Facebook Live, under High Tide Church.
The groundbreaking celebration for their new home will take place on Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m. with hopes of having the project completed in early 2022. For more information, check out their website at hightidechurch.org.