Welcome to the New Church of Southwest Florida

Our Story

Our Story

The New Church of Southwest Florida began with Revered Dick Tafel some fifteen years ago. At an age when most people contemplate retirement, Revered Dick, as he is known on the beach, began ministering on the beach. He began the VIP after School Program, a Bread Ministry an emergency food pantry. He distributed collection boxes at various businesses on the beach. Many businesses on the beach held fund raisers for a children’s summer camp program. Christmas Eve Worship on the beach attracted many visitors. Under Rev Dick leadership the small but dynamic congregation of the New Church of Southwest Florida focused on making a difference in the lives of people on the beach.  After many years of service, Revered Dick retired and passed the mantle to Reverend Nadine Cotton. She continued the ministries begun by Reverend Dick.  When Reverend Nadine felt called to chaplaincy, Reverend Dick came out of retirement to continue working the ministries. He continued active involvement in the affairs of Fort Myers Beach and with the VIP after school program. Wanting to retire and get back to a more leisurely life, the church began a search for a new pastor. In September of 2011, Reverend Gabriella Cahaley became the pastor. She continues the programs started by Reverend Dick besides the Sunday worship she conducts new activities like Sunrise Meditation Walk, Taize Worship and Bridges, a grief and loss support group. She and her partner of 43 years open their home on the beach to Community dinners and spirituality meetings. 

Reverend Dick Tafel, the founder of the New Church of Southwest Florida, and his partner Linda remain active supporters and continue volunteering in the activities of the church.
Under Revered Nadine's leadership, the congregation continued the VIP After School Program the Thrift Shop and Emergency Food pantry as well as spirituality programs and worship in the Fort Myers Beach Community.
Reverend Gabriella and her partner arrived in Fort Myers Beach in September 2011. As the new pastor of the New Church of Southwest Florida, she continues  working with the VIP after school program the Emergency Food Pantry adding  new programs such as the Sunrise Meditation Walk, Taize Worship on the Beach, Spirituality Programs and Movie & Discussion Nights.


Rev. Gabriella bids farewell to Fort Myers Beach on May 23, 2012

 “Saying  Goodbye is Hard to do”, repeats in my head as I pack for our move back to Tucson. Nine moths of ministering in Fort Myers Beach have given me sweet memories now tinged with sadness. John’s health care needs necessitate our move back to Tucson AZ, to our home. We came from the desert where we enjoyed watching birds make their home in the monumental saguaro. Coyotes often sauntered across the street; quale ran in alarm when they sensed my presence and the famed roadrunners dashed swiftly into the bushes.  Here in Fort Myers Beach, I walked at the edge of the “womb of creation”, watched dolphin swim close the shore, egrets, plovers, herons, sea gulls and pelicans swooping in for their meals. Here, I met many people walking at sunrise on the beach. We became friends, wishing each other “Good Morning”. I was welcomed to another day in paradise. I take this opportunity to thank those who support the ministries of the New Church of Southwest Florida with food and monetary donations. I must admit to loving the work I came here to do; working with the VIP Kids at Beach Elementary and serving the community. As you know from past posts, I love taking pictures. These pictures will always remind me of this beautiful place where people are generous, kind and hospitable. Although I will miss the beach, most of all I will miss the people of Fort Myers Beach and the dog friends I met on my beach walks. My last word to the people living on this parcel in paradise is God is with you and me wherever we go.  Thank you for welcoming me and thank you for the privilege of serving you.

On my last day in Fort Myers, Beach, Debbie and I walked together into a glorious sunrise.Surely the day will be blessed. 

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