Diplomat Wesleyan Church
All great enterprises start with a vision. God gave Dr. Bob and Barbara Benninger and Rev. John and Carol Cruise a vision for a new church in Cape Coral. Rev. Wilbur and Dorothy Coates joined the project as founding pastor and church planting began in July of 1988.
A team of dedicated people called over 20,000 households to invite people to the new church. On September 11, 1988, 96 people met at Caloosa Middle School for the opening service. Pastor Coates’ first theme, “A New Beginning In Christ” became a reality for many people and for the church.
The church achieved official status as a developing church on December 4, 1988. Later that same month the church purchased our current property. Then on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1989, the church met the organizational requirements and became fully established.
God continued to bless and the church grew. In March of 1992, South Trust Bank gave the church its present building. People gave sacrificially of their time, energy and money to relocate and renovate the building. Now after meeting in several locations, the church had a home of its own and services in the new building began in July of 1993.
Rev. Wilbur Coates was the first of our dedicated pastors. He served the church from 1988 until his retirement in 1990. The church has benefitted from his continuing service and in 1997 became our Pastor Emeritus.
Other pastors include Rev. Jeff Wippert, 1990-1994; Rev. Mark Wilcox, 1994-1996 and Rev. Rick Stevens, 1997 to the present.
The years have witnessed a panorama of the miracles of God’s grace and blessing. Yes, there have been heartaches and disappointments. But many people have found and followed Christ. These saints go marching on!
The Wesleyan Denomination
In the 1700's a vital and dynamic Christian movement swept across England. The Wesleyan movement grew out of this English revival and the work of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitefield.
Even as an ordained Anglican minister, Wesley struggled with his personal faith. In spite of serving as a missionary to America he didn't enjoy a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He met and talked with some vibrant, alive believers on the voyage home from America. Then in May of 1738 he attended church and during the service "felt his heart strangely warmed" by the assurance of personal salvation. His spiritual growth continued and he discovered that sanctification and a life of holiness also came by faith.
Wesley emphasized four great truths found in the Bible:
1. Salvation is provided for all people.
2. Salvation is provided from all sin.
3. Salvation is certified by the personal witness of the Holy Spirit.
4. Salvation is received by faith.
Motivated by his new found faith John Wesley labored ceaselessly. At the same time, God sent a revival that swept across the British Isles then leaped the Atlantic Ocean and made its impact on the American Colonies. This movement known as Methodism started with class meetings, grew into church societies and finally developed into a denomination.
The first Methodist came to America in 1766 and organized the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784. Most early Methodists faithfully followed Wesley's emphasis in doctrine and conduct. However, the church soon began to wrestle with the social issue of slavery.
Many people within the church could not condone slavery in light of the teachings of Jesus Christ. As opposition to slavery increased in the north, reform movements began.
In 1843 courageous men, who would not be intimidated into silence on a significant moral issue, took a bold step. Because of their strong anti-slavery convictions and their preference for a more democratic form of church government they met in Utica, New York to found The Wesleyan Methodist Connection. The name later changed to The Wesleyan Methodist Church in America. Over time, a number of smaller churches merged with them especially between 1948 and 1966 including the Alliance of Reformed Baptists of Canada.