Captiva's Chapel By The Sea is not only getting a new minister, Rev. George Morris, but it's also received official confirmation of its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Morris, who moved to Captiva from Cherry Hill, N.J., had previously served with the Haddonfield United Methodist Church for 11 years. The idea to apply for the new position came from one of his parishioners.
"One of my parishioners, the year I was retiring, was visiting the island and when she came home she said there was a little church looking for a pastor," said Morris, who came to the island last year to submit his application and meet with the chapel board.
Rev. George Morris in front of the Chapel By The Sea. Mckenzie Cassidy.
Ministers serve in three year positions at the interdenominational chapel and reside on the grounds during their term.
Many people from the island and Southwest Florida visit the chapel every weekend and attend special holiday events. Between 100 to 200 people attend Sunday services each week, he said, and many of them in outdoor seating.
Later this month, the church will host Carol Singing on Sunday, Dec. 15 and a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. The congregation will also have its own cart in the Captiva Holiday Village's Decorated Golf Cart Parade on Saturday, Dec. 7, with a replica of the chapel attached to the top of the cart.
Besides the regional congregation, an additional 2,000 to 3,000 people make recreational visits to the chapel every year. Recently, Morris said he met a group of women from Ireland who wanted to pray in front of the chapel, so he joined their circle.
As the new minister he wants to ensure that the chapel is the type of place where islanders visit and worship. He will also continue working with local missionaries to support community-based projects.
"I'm really here to maintain and strengthen the traditions that make this a viable community of faith," he said.
Half of the chapel's offerings support missionary work with a number of non-profits, including F.I.S.H. of Sanibel, ECHO Global Farm's in North Fort Myers, SalusCare, and Hope Hospice.
The chapel's new historical designation is also expected to attract more visitors. Besides being recognized as "historically valuable," the designation also offers additional protection from development and federal tax benefits.
'Tween Waters Inn is the other property on Captiva Island listed on the national register.
For more information about the chapel, visit captivachapel.com.