SCC, its congregation welcome new senior pastor
After the farewell of Senior Pastor Daryl Donovan in January 2019, followed by the Rev. Dr. Stephen LeBar serving in the interim position, Sanibel Community Church now has a new face at its helm.
In mid-July, the church announced that Jeramie Rinne will serve as its new senior pastor.
He conducted his first sermon for the island congregation on July 26.
“I’ve been a pastor now for over 20 years,” Rinne said.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, he became a Christian at a young age.
“From those early days, I always really loved and was fascinated with the Bible and studying the Bible,” Rinne said. “I enjoyed teaching it to other people – and talking about the Bible.”
He explained that he perceived it as more than just an ancient or historical text, but as God’s word, adding that he saw the changes in people’s lives who believed in it and followed what it says.
“That’s my great passion as a pastor,” Rinne said. “To teach this ancient book and see how amazingly relevant it is for everyday life, even today.”
He earned his undergraduate degree in the Bible and ancient languages from Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois, then moved on to the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for his studies.
“So this has been my only career,” Rinne said of his chosen path.
Coming out of seminary school, he first served at the South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. Rinne was an assistant pastor for almost two years before moving into the senior pastor position on an interim basis. He later officially took up the role and served from 1997 to 2016.
“That turned into a long and happy pastorate at that church,” Rinne said.
For the last four years, he has been serving as the senior pastor at an international church, the Evangelical Community Church Abu Dhabi located in the United Arab Emirates.
“I was always interested in overseas work,” Rinne said, explaining that he sort of has an adventurous spirit and that an interest in missions work began taking him overseas for short trips to do projects.
He explained that he was overseas training pastors in preaching the Bible when he and a friend went out to dinner. His friend mentioned the Abu Dhabi church and that its pastor was retiring after 25 years.
“Something just sparked inside of me and I was intrigued,” Rinne said, adding that he was surprised at his own reaction because he always imagined that he would be with one church for his whole career.
Returning home, Rinne told his wife that he thought he wanted to apply, and she supported it.
“And one thing led to another,” he said.
“It was an amazing experience,” Rinne added of his service overseas. “It was a church of about 1,000 people from 50 or 60 nationalities. It was fascinating working as a Christian in a Muslim country.”
However, the couple’s oldest children soon began heading off to college in the United States.
“We needed to be near family, so it was for family we came back,” he said.
Rinne explained that as he and his wife sensed it was time to return to the United States, he began contacting pastor friends in the country and asked them to let him know of any opportunities.
He soon heard about the Sanibel Community Church and the senior pastor position.
“I didn’t know anything about Sanibel as an island,” Rinne said. “I didn’t know it is this paradise.”
SCC is nondenominational, so its congregation is made up of different Christian backgrounds.
“And that intrigued me,” he said. “It’s such a diverse church. There’s just really amazing people here from all walks of life, who have lived incredible lives and careers.”
In his new role, Rinne will focus on the Bible, what it says and its application to modern life.
“I would say there are three pillars of my philosophy,” he said.
Rinne explained that the first is the gospel message – the idea that we are all sinners in need of a savior and that Jesus died to save us. The second is to carry on the tradition of the Bible’s teachings and deepen that in the congregation. The third is his passion for a united church tied to the community.
“I really like that about the Sanibel Community Church,” he said, noting that the congregation is involved on the island and connected to it historically. “It’s a church that’s in the fabric of the town.”
Rinne is marred to Jennifer. They have two sons and two daughters, ages 16-23.
“We’re just thrilled to live on Sanibel,” he said, pointing to the climate and lifestyle of the sanctuary island. “It really suits our family. We’re very outdoorsy.”
While first drawn to SCC, Rinne has been learning more about the community.
“I’ve just had this growing sense of, ‘Wow, this island is a perfect fit for our family,” he said.