MINISTER MILESTONE: Quest Church celebrates Pastor Bryan Stamper's five decades

Pastor Bryan Stamper has spent 50 years ministering to the congregation of one church. He has no plans to retire and is looking ahead to what the future will bring to his ministry.

Quest Church Pastor Bryan Stamper has a routine for writing his weekly sermons and already has them prepared for many Sundays in 2025.
Quest Church Pastor Bryan Stamper has a routine for writing his weekly sermons and already has them prepared for many Sundays in 2025.
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Fifty years ago, Bryan Stamper had completed his doctorate in theology and was looking for a church to lead. God called him to the 19-year-old St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, in Pine Hills, and he preached his first sermon March 17, 1974.

He fell in love with the church and congregation and has remained steadfast in his commitment ever since — through five decades of change that included a move to a different campus and a new name for the church.

A celebration of Stamper’s 50 years of dedication took place Sunday, March 17, at the church, which has been on Citrus Oaks Avenue, in Gotha, since the 1990s and under the name Quest Church since 2016. His son, Bryan Stamper Jr., a pastor of a Presbyterian church in Texas and former youth pastor at the Gotha church, returned home to Central Florida to deliver the Sunday morning message.


Stamper grew up as the son of a United States Navy chaplain who became vice president of a Christian college and, later, of Columbia Theological Seminary.

“He had two PhDs, two masters, and came out of abject poverty,” Stamper said of his father. “He had a magic touch for the kingdom and for himself.”

 Stamper studied at Emory University and Columbia Theological and completed his doctoral degree at Scotland University of Edinburgh. When he returned to the U.S., he immediately established a career and a life in Central Florida.

He learned of the position at St. Pauls, a small church that had just built a new sanctuary and was in financial trouble.

Pastor Bryan Stamper began his pastoral career in 1974 at St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, in Pine Hills.

“We grew so fast because of the new building that we were able to pay for it,” Stamper said. “We had a lot of Disney people and Martin Marietta engineers.”

As the church and its congregation and programs expanded, there was only so much they could do on less than two acres of land — so Stamper started looking for a larger space with more visibility. He found just what he was looking for when he discovered an 18-acre parcel off West Colonial Drive near State Road 429.

At the time, he said, the nearby city of Ocoee seemed like the edge of the world.

The campus has grown to include the church and three schools: Light Christian Academy, operated by the Ocoee Church of God; Growing Minds Montessori School; and Pathways for Life Academy. It also rents space to churches of other denominations and cultures, including a Pentecostal Church of God and churches representing Indonesia, Africa, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Brazil.

“That’s a strong part of our ministry,” Stamper said. “They come to us, most of them. We let them set their rate, whatever they can afford to pay.”

This diversity is what sets the church apart and one of the reasons Stamper led the name change to Quest Church.

“We were a very traditional Presbyterian church in the ’70s,” he said. “The church has become more contemporary. … A lot of people don’t care about denominational issues, so we dropped that.”

Quest also holds a monthly food drive that reaches about 900 people through a donation from Second Harvest Food Bank. The church provides about 30 volunteers each time to unload the boxes and distribute the goods.

“We tend to overestimate what we can do in a year; we tend to underestimate what we can do in a lifetime,” Stamper said. “That philosophy is what allowed us to partner with the churches and schools.”

In many churches, the pastor is moved every four to seven years — but not at Quest Church.

“If you just want to stay, you can do it, but you have to change your spiel,” Stamper said. “When we preach, we have a co-preacher three times out of the month. I writ them and they use my stuff, or they write their own.”

Jan Stamper has been her husband’s biggest supporter in their 44 years of marriage.

This operation has worked well Stamper said, because he has diverse guest preachers of varying genders and ages, and some are church members, and some are not. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the church has a larger online presence.

“We got much smaller with COVID,” he said. “We’re, just in the last year, getting people to come (back). We’re getting more people in the building.”


Stamper said the thought of retirement has not crossed his mind.

“I have no idea when I’ll retire,” he said. “I’m just sort of leaving it up to God to make that clear. I can’t say, ‘I’ll retire when I’m 80.’ I don’t know how I’ll feel when I’m 80.”

Every day, Stamper begins his morning routine even before he gets out of bed. He says his prayers before his feet hit the floor, and then he’s lying on the carpet doing a set of 100 pushups. He and his wife of 44 years, Jan, walk every morning.

“I’m 77,” he said. “Exercising is everything. You’ve got to do it. If you do it when you’re young, you reap the benefits when you’re older.”

He and his siblings inherited the family cabin near Boone, North Carolina, and he spends two or three weeks at a time there, writing devotionals and recording them for Facebook posts and sermons. He knows the ins and outs of the Bible and said Philippians 4 is his favorite chapter: Let all your requests be known with thanksgiving.

He also believes in keeping a gratitude journal and writing down blessings.

“It says in Philippians 4, “Don’t ask for something until you give thanks.’ … Whatsoever things are lovely, are full of praise. You can choose your thoughts and choose your memories, so choose happy memories. I’ve learned to be content with a little and a lot, and I think it’s easier to be content with a little. I’m very fortunate.”


Stamper keeps his eyes on the future of the church and wants to continue partnering with other churches and organizations. There could be another move in the coming years.

“This church … property is worth probably $10 million, and we owe probably $2 million or $3 million,” he said. “If leadership comes to an agreement, (we could) sell the property but continue to hold church here and take $8 million and build somewhere to the west, expand the ministry. When we came here it was the edge of the growth, so you’d go a little further west and do it again.”

Stamper said this campus is perfect for a large school, with its gymnasium and chapel. He understands schools are desperate for space, and a portion of the campus could be rented out to generate income for the school.

“I believe God is deeply pleased,” Stamper said of his pastoral career and the ministry he has built. “This isn’t my church; we’re stewards of it.”


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