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Finding a Church After You Have Moved

This one was always going to be a tough one for me simply because my church home in Appleton, WI seemed almost perfect. I had met my best friend there, was baptized there, was in the choir off and on for 10 years, taught Sunday School, led my Homeless Shelter ministry… and so many more wonderful opportunities had happened at Appleton Alliance. So where do you start as the new kid on the block? I will take you through our journey and how we hope we have found the church home we have been looking for.

First, we did search online for non-denominational churches, as that was where we had come from. You have to start with what you know first, then move you way up to see if there is something new or different you would like to try.  The only Alliance Church we had found we had no interest in, so from there we had thought about attending a Church our friends attend in Lakeland. The only issue I knew we were going to have is that it was about 30 minutes or more up i4, and I just didn’t see myself driving it all the time, seemed to take awhile the time we drove past it on the way to Sarasota. If we committed to it, and it was too far, I would make excuses not to get to choir or anything else outside of Sunday service- I didn’t want it to start that way.

Second, we prayed about it. My first church here wound up being the “Mary, Queen of the Universe” because my Mom and Bob wanted to try it out on their stay here. I am no longer Catholic, so even though the Church was beautiful, it wasn’t for me. I am a VERY contemporary gal, and I enjoy my worship time with some lively music, plus I truly feel my soul lift up and off the floor when I hear a moving song.  For me, singing is my outlet of speaking to God, so it was very important I find that place I can do that again.  Yes, I sing in my car and in the shower, but nothing like with a choir or a sanctuary filled with believers… that is just something special that I hope everyone gets to feel in their lives on this Earth.

Third, ask at your old church. When I was home this past October, I couldn’t stop smiling while walking the old halls of my Church. At that point I almost wanted to move back and fall into the routine with Choir that I was craving by this point of the move. I saw my Pastor and asked him to recommend a Church for myself in Orlando, since the search was going cold. He suggested “First Baptist of Orlando” which I had heard of, but honestly never gave it any attention because I am not a Baptist. He said they had great programs, huge church, that I should look into it.

More excuses went by, until finally Craig and I tried it out this past Sunday.  First, we timed the drive, as it ran us about 20 minutes down the other direction of I4- and it didn’t seem to long since it was a Sunday morning.   It was just past the Universal Studios area, so we had an “idea” of where it was located, on top of having our handy GPS to guide us the rest of the way.  We decided to try out the 10:45 service, as the 9:00 was listed more as a traditional one. Again, I wanted to feel the beat and get my praise on- the long and traditional hymns weren’t going to do it.  We checked in as “new” at the informational desk, then found a seat around the front of the church on the main floor. Yes, the church is so huge it has a large balcony, and televises it’s services for those who cannot make it to church. As we sat there, I started to feel a growing pain in my stomach. I really missed Appleton Alliance, and for the first time in a long time, I was VERY, VERY homesick. There was no familiar smiling face to greet me, no choir member to bump into for a hug, and the feeling of “alone” was starting to creep in. I squeezed Craig’s hand and just prayed this was the right one, as we were both tired and broken from not having a Church home for the past 7 months. Yes, people can be and feel broken when they don’t have that fellowship of Christians every week, hearing God’s word and learning from it… I had missed so much of it.  We enjoyed the service, as it was their Missions Sunday, which means they celebrate all the Missions they do around the World in helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and getting out God’s word to those who have never heard it.  It was inspiring, and it almost felt like a “Welcome Petermanns” service, even though it had nothing to do with us. Or so we thought.  After Service we were encouraged to go to Faith Hall and see where God could use us in any of the many outreach programs they have. We signed up for helping the homeless and a couple of other really neat programs. I will follow up on those once they have happened.

Fourth, and finally, talk to the friends you make here. Ask where they go to church, and if you are brave and they say they don’t, invite them to search with you or attend one YOU have been thinking about yourself.  Most information these days does come from the Internet, so ask your friends and family who live in your new city and state about where they attend- search groups that have your same faith in mind to see how they can help you. Ultimately, it is your choice and your WILL in the end to get there and start that new journey, and believe me, it IS a scary one. But here’s the thing, I am SUPER excited to meet new people at this Church and get connected with those who can help me on my spiritual walk. I have fallen down so many times that I am surprised I have found God’s hand to help me back up again, but we are all sinners and knowing you have that relationship with him is half the battle.

So in conclusion, I loved the Pastor, the size of the Church is a bit big, but I am going to work with it, and I love all the ministries they have to be a part of.  I love my Disney, but Christ leads my life, not Mickey, and I don’t ever want that impression to be given that Disney is more important. It is my hobby, it is my happy place, but my treasures lie in Heaven.  We will be taking the girls this week to see what they think and going forward from there, my hope is that this IS the one, but only time will tell if it is truly where the Petermanns are meant to be. God bless your day!


  1. So glad to see that you found a Church that you may call home. We were in the same boat several years back. I was a Catholic and not willing to change. That was until the Catholic was giving us the run around about baptizing our baby daughter. That is when I decided to start a search. We sound found a Baptist Church that felt like was preaching to me. It was a small church. Reminded me of “The Little House on the Prairie. I too, love the missions. I have taken the lead in a community festival indented to bring people in the community to find a Church home.
    Thank you for sharing your families experience.


  2. So very true, Amy. We love Disney but our Christian Faith is the foundation of our life. We love the Shrine – we’re Catholic Converts from the Protestant world. But each parish or church has its own flavor and you have to try out a few sometimes to find the right fit. Our local church has a fabulous Sunday night service geared for the youth and so it’s very Contemporary and when it comes to worship, we’re not that Contemporary – lol!

    Wishing you the best!


  3. Amy, that’s awesome. Finding a church home is so crucial to really FEELING at home in a new city – but its definitely not always easy. I remember last time we moved and started looking into new churches. It felt like being out on the dating scene again!


  4. I am sooo happy for you Amy. Though my experience is different than yours – I was very active in my church when we lived in West Haven – My son went to Our Lady of Victory since Pre-K through 8th grade. I was a Eucharistic Minister and loved my church and the people. Once we moved I would still go but found it easier not to go. So I haven’t found a new church in orange yet – you have inspired me to find a church that suits me – where you feel comfortable. Though I have not lost my faith in God and I strongly believe you don’t need to go to church to worship – you can worship anywhere at anytime – sometimes you want to hear the music and feel the words. Thank you and I am sure the Lord will let you know if this is home. Have a blessed day!


  5. I know I-4 is usually the most direct route to anywhere in that area Amy, but when we visit & drive around, we avoid it at ALL cost! Even husband gets severe ‘driver anxiety’ on that road. We do our praying in the car…that we get off I-4 in one piece! haha!
    So I was thinking if you took 435 or Palm Pkwy to Conroy / Turkey Lake to Vineland, maybe you could avoid it??? Longer trip but might be worth it. Not sure exactly where you are located, but if you return home thru the Dr. Phillips area there are some nice places for brunch, I think.

    Thanks for sharing all of your experiences. Hoping to follow in your footsteps soon (but we’ll be heading into a 55+ community!!!)


  6. That is wonderful, Amy. I hope this church works out for you and your family. And if it wasn’t meant to be, I will pray that you can find the right church for you. Keep us posted!


  7. Amy, so did you end up at First Baptist of Orlando? It’s a huge church, but my sister and her husband and their family have been going to their for about 20 years +! Me, I wasn’t into big churches, and I went to a smaller church in Orlando before we moved to Brevard County. Some times it takes a little while to find your niche in a church and to see what spiritual gifts you have that you can use there. It may take awhile, buy you’ll know when you/re in the right spot! Keep me posted !! Hopefully this is the one!


  8. PTL, Amy – I’ve been praying that the Lord would lead you and your family to a church where you could feel at home. We have friends who live in the UP of Michigan and when they are down here, First Baptist Orlando is the church they attend. Looking forward to your posts about the ministries the Lord has led you to.


  9. Hi Amy,

    We are in the same boat. We are Catholic and we had a VERY hard time finding a Catholic church in Tampa. We found one, but it was nothing like back home and it felt very much like a high school clique . We have looked into a Baptist church that we feel very comfortable with, as it is part of our children’s school. My problem is going to be telling my parents which will be extremely hard as I was raised in a strict Italian Catholic family. I struggle with them accepting this, but this is the only place we feel at home now.


  10. Amy, I hope this church is a good fit for your family. If not, don’t be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged. For the Lord, your God, is on your side wherever you go!


  11. Somehow I missed this when you first posted. My close friend attends FBO and loves it! She is part of the Singing Christmas Trees and works with the youth. Her name is Tracee Free, her husband is Bart. – ALSO – there are several members that are Cast Members and Lindsey Marks Guillot sings at FBO and works at WDW. She has been MANY different charactors – Cinderella, Ariel, Tinkerbell. You have to follow where HE wants you to be! It is so important to gather with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ and worship HIM! I pray that you find a place to plant your feet!


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