About Us

Let’s get acquainted

Of course, the best way to get acquainted is to come to Candlewood and meet us in person. But here are some things you might not discover in a visit. And some that might be obvious. Just click any of the headings below to find out what’s inside.

Our Staff

Gaetano Paolino


Pastor Gaetano will become our new pastor beginning August 1, 2023.

Rose DePalma


Our Statement of Faith

Our core beliefs guide all of our decisions, our priorities, and even our prayers. In a church, those core beliefs are expressed in a “statement of faith.” As members of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), and the southeast district of the EFCA, Candlewood adheres to the beliefs expressed in the EFCA statement of faith.

Our Vision

Our vision is to develop mature Christ followers who bring God into everyday life.

Our Story — for you history buffs

Candlewood Community Church began as a vision statement many years ago at Oakwood Community Church in the Carrollwood area of Tampa. In 2006 it was clear that God was putting together a team to bring it into reality.  Oakwood’s Minister of Congregational Life, Pastor Ron Day, and his wife, Ardell, along with a Church Multiplication Task Force were identified as God’s appointed leaders to launch a daughter church in Pasco County north of Tampa. The target area was broadly defined as between Highway 54 on the south, Highway 52 on the north, the Suncoast Parkway on the west, and I-75 on the east.

The Task Force set a launch target of 2007. They spent the second half of 2006 putting together Philosophies of Ministry, Policies, Values, Constitution and Bylaws, Name Selection, Incorporation Papers, Meeting Site Selection, and all the other tasks on their list.

In December 2006, in order to pull together a launch team, the Task Force invited Oakwood people living in the target area to several Considering Candlewood events at Oakwood. About 35 adults, teens, and children accepted the invitation to join the Launch Team from Oakwood. Others were soon added from the target area.

After two “Preview” and two “Get Acquainted” services in January and February, Candlewood began weekly services on March 4, 2007 at Pineview Middle School in Land O’ Lakes. A leadership team was formed to function like elders and deacons, but only as an advisory group until full autonomy was achieved.  This team was called the T.A.G. (Transitional Advisory Group) Team. By early November, 2007 it was apparent that full autonomy could be achieved by the new year; all of the prerequisites set by the Mother Church were well in hand.  All of the behind the scenes documents and legal steps were in place and all of the finances were fully covered by the Candlewood family.

On November 29, 2007 the Elders of Oakwood officially gave their Blessing of Autonomy to Candlewood Community Church at a dinner meeting that included the giving of testimonies of faith in Christ by 24 Oakwood members ready to transfer their membership to Candlewood. A Considering Candlewood session was held on a couple of occasions preparing an additonal nine members to be added at Candlewood’s Annual Family Meeting on December 9, 2007 bringing the charter membership to 33.

On January 1, 2008 Candlewood gained full autonomy and membership in the South East District of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Also at the Family Meeting Candlewood affirmed an official call to Pastor Ron Day as our pastor and affirmed two Elders and two Deacons to form the Leadership Team in place of the T.A.G. Team. The budget for 2008 (the first full year of operation) was approved as well.

Due to God’s abundant blessing Candlewood began leasing a 24/7 facility in late 2010. The last service at Pine View Middle School was on December 19, 2010. After the worship service everyone helped to load up our “stuff” and move it into the new church home at 21418 Carson Dr. We then held our Annual Family Meeting in the new facility. The first service took place on January 2, 2011.

This is the brief version of our story. We would love to hear your story. Perhaps God is planning on combining our stories to His glory!