Shelter Rock Church, founded in 1943, continues to the present day as a magnet for people all over Long Island who are interested in connecting with God and other people. Our story begins with a small group of dedicated Christians from Flushing Baptist Church who, recognizing the eastward movement of population on Long Island, began worshipping together in Manhasset using the historic Onderdonk House on Northern Boulevard as a rented sanctuary.
First under the care of Pastor Martin Clough the congregation grew over the years to the 100 mark and the Onderdonk House space was insufficient for meetings. The congregation decided to relocate to Christ Episcopal Church gym. While there, the decision was made to purchase an available property on Plandome Road, where a sanctuary would be built for the growing congregation. This proposal met with mixed reviews – the prospect of outreach and significant financial commitment was too much for some, who subsequently left the congregation. The remainder, significantly decreased in size, returned to the smaller quarters of the Onderdonk House but did not lose sight of the vision of a Christ-centered church at the corner of Plandome and Webster. The dream was fulfilled in God’s time and the first building was completed in 1956.
In the 60s and 70s, the church experienced difficult times, as it did to many churches on Long Island. Older people moved away and younger families were less and less inclined to attend church. However, a remnant remained and with God’s blessing and a determination to continue the ministry, the church endured. In 1975, the membership prayerfully called a new pastor, under whose ministry young families returned to the church. With the dedicated commitment that David and Jill Seifried presented to the congregation, the church continued to prosper under the hand of God. In 1982, as a result of our own Missions Conference, Pastor Seifried made a decision to serve the Lord in Spain as a missionary.
Once again the congregation was faced with the challenge of finding a successor to a well-loved, dynamic leader. God, in His grace, made the way plain. He provided for every need for the Seifrieds during their transition period, as well as for the new Pastor, Bryan Wilkerson, and his wife, Karen. Pastor Bryan faithfully ministered for many years and the church prospered beyond expectation. The building addition in 1994 greatly increased the potential for ministry as well as the visibility in the community.
In the 90s the church began hiring multiple staff and revitalized its mission, purpose, and vision. Committing “To lead as many people as possible to a joyful and growing relationship with Christ” and pursuing, what came to be called “The Three Cs” of encouraging the congregation to Celebrate, Connect and Contribute as active participants in the body of Christ. During the fall of 2002, the church called Steve Tomlinson to be Senior Pastor. With a passion to lead people to Jesus Christ and the skills necessary to lead a growing church, Steve brought a contagious vision “To reach Long Island with the Gospel of Christ through the continued development of multi-campus communities pursuing excellence in a culturally appropriate context and by working in close relationship with other life-giving churches and Christian organizations.” With the Mission, Purpose, and staff in place, Shelter Rock Church found itself positioned to continue a rich tradition of effective ministry. In 2005, the church added an additional campus in Syosset, after the merger with a small congregation who graciously made their church building and parsonages available.
Today Shelter Rock Church has 3 campuses, seven Sunday morning services with a church community of over 1,400 people with over 2,400 attending on Easter. It is a vibrant, Gospel-teaching church, that ministers effectively to the communities of Long Island and the greater metropolitan area. In short, to lead as many people as possible into a joyful and growing relationship with Christ!