The Stonehouse Church story is a story of intersecting roads. The year 2009 was a pivotal year in the development of what is now Stonehouse Church. That year Emilio Marrero joined a team that moved from Virginia to Tampa, FL to plant a church while at the same time Derrick Phillips began laboring with a church plant team in Durham, NC. These two apprenticing leaders knew nothing of one another at that time but they would become the pastors of this local church in downtown St. Petersburg.
Eventually Emilio started the church in St. Pete in 2011 and Derrick moved to St. Pete in 2013 after further training in North Carolina and Michigan. the two met and as an answer to both of their prayers saw an opportunity for cooperation to further the fame of Jesus in downtown St. Pete. Emilio and his wife Hannah were pursuing a burden to go to foreign lands while Derrick and his wife Rachel were working to build a team and church that could meet the needs of a young, urban, post-christian context. In the summer of 2014 the idea of combining leadership and then sending out the Marreros was first considered and prayed over. By November of 2014 the two works were combined and existed as Aletheia St. Pete under Emilio and Derrick’s combined leadership along with elder Jason Morris. By summer of 2015 the Marreros were sent out from Aletheia St. Pete to pursue cross-cultural ministry training and eventually left America for the Basque Country of Spain at the end of 2015 while Aletheia St. Pete continued.
God was gracious to this combined local church during the time of transition and to recognize the changes happening a new identity was considered. A study of First Peter brought that new name to light: “Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house.” (1 Peter 2:4-5 CEV) Jesus is building his church and, like stones being used to build a house, has brought men and women together from many different places to firmly establish this local church in St. Pete. It is a time of tremendous growth and change for St. Petersburg and by his good grace, God is at work to make famous the name of Jesus and bring spiritual renewal to a city that is experiencing urban renewal.