A Message From Pastor Shawn


By now everyone on Fort Myers Beach has seen pictures of a proposal to rebuild Beach Baptist Church. Those plans include an 8-story condo building and 36 workforce housing units on the 3.5 acre piece of property. A meeting is being held Thursday at 3 to show off the plan. Beach Baptist Pastor Shawn Critser sent us this message to share with you.

(By Pastor Shawn Critser) “On Thursday, May 25, 2023, from 3PM-6PM, Beach Baptist Church of Ft. Myers Beach will be holding a community open house to discuss its plans for the reconstruction of its property and what the ministry will look like at that location for the next several decades.

“In the weeks following Hurricane Ian, I reached out to a close group of friends to help me consider what the future of Beach Baptist Church would look like. It was my, and the congregation’s desire to create a plan showing how the ministry would continue at this location for years to come. I involved my long-time friend, Aaron Coe, who runs a ministry-based consulting firm, Future City Now, to help me envision what this plan would look like. We made it clear that in addition to regular church activities, the church wanted to be a part of the community by providing workforce housing, walkable retail and other community facing benefits.

“In order to help the church conceptualize this plan, Steve Collins, of S.J. Collins Enterprises, an Atlanta-based developer and Aaron Forther of Canvas Planning, a city planner, were brought in to advise the church on the plan. So far, these concepts have been discussed at a high level with members of the congregation and some members of the community. The community open house this Thursday will be a forum to gain feedback from members of the community who wish to provide it. The team from Future City Now, S.J. Collins, and Canvas Planning will be in attendance with me and our team to answer any questions the community may have.”

Beach Talk Radio will broadcast the presentation portion of the meeting live on Thursday which begins at 3PM.


  1. Today is going to be an important day for the residents of Fort Myers Beach. Today, Pastor Shawn will be presenting his plan for the property’s future, including condominiums, a rebuilt church, and workforce housing. And as the letters on this page indicate, resistance to this project will be strong and swift.

    But Pastor Shawn has been working tirelessly for years, including the 8 months since Hurricane Ian wiped most of this island clean of buildings, including Beach Baptist Church.

    He deserves, nay, he has EARNED our respect to be heard. And we owe it to him as residents and beneficiaries of his kindness to listen to him respectfully. I encourage everyone attending today to hear him out, listen to what he has to say, and WAIT to respond. Listen to him with calm, level heads. Do NOT let your emotions get the best of you, and let’s show Pastor Shawn that this is a community of kind, caring, and RESPECTFUL people.

    Interrupting him will only prove to everyone that you’re not listening, because you think that what you have to say is more important than what he has to say.

    Clearly, few of us are in favor of this project. But let’s ALL grant him the right to be heard.

    We owe that to him

  2. It has taken a years of effort to come up with the laws, codes, rules & regulations that are in place. Don’t throw them away because there is a request. If you want to end up with something nice, it takes backbone.

  3. Respectfully, I am very grateful for the charitable works of the church, but please do not include “Workforce Housing” in your plans. This can only have negative impacts for the surrounding properties such as lower property values and higher crime. Some of my neighbors are single women that are senior citizens. Two of them mentioned that they would not feel secure should the proposed development go through.
    On the other hand, the church could raise a lot of money renting expensive low-density high-end units. With the money earned one could provide out-reach programs off of the Island. This would be a win-win for everyone. It would increase the value of the neighboring properties while, simultaneously, raising a lot of money for charitable works. It is also less complicated (at least I hope so) in that you can stay in the existing city codes and avoid the controversies surrounding issues related to below market rate housing.
    Oh, one more thing, I cannot stand modern church architecture. It’s ugly. Stay away from that strip mall church look. Something classic would be nice.
    Just my two cents.
    God Bless…

    • I don’t believe I just read this. Commoners not welcome on FMB. Hope you are not an actual resident as your statements are foolish. I am an off islander commoner who loves FMB and all it stands for. I always felt welcome on FMB until now.

    • Clearly you’re clueless about what workforce housing is.

      A single person can make no more than 83k/yr and qualify for WFH. A family of three is capped at $107k.

      A 2BR in WFH can rent for no more than $3k/mo.

      And you believe that demographic will bring high crime?

      LOL. So much ignorance, arrogance, and elitism.

  4. No no no,
    8 story Condosand low -cost housing –
    Parking AND a Church – right !!!!
    Way too much going on for size of land.
    No insurance, shame on you !

  5. We lived across the street from Beach Baptist for 9 years and were members of the church for several of those. We know the Critser family well and have a special place in our hearts for them.

    We do not support these plans.

    Churches have fundraising campaigns all the time. Look the fundraising efforts of BTR, The FMB Community Foundation and The FMB Womens Club since Ian! The “congregation” at Beach Baptist ebbs and flows. However, I am certain that if Shawn truly wanted to build back the church, all of heaven would come to his aid.

    Our family would help and many others would also. Plenty of islanders would offer their talents for fundraising. Many others would offer their skills to rebuild. And yet others would offer their money gifts.

    If Shawn truly wants to bring the community together, this proposed plan is definitely NOT the way to do it.

  6. No no no. This will literally be in my backyard. I will get to look at a 3 story concrete building directly behind me and a 8 story building blocking the sun all afternoon? Greed and horrible planning by the church not having insurance. Hey Shawn that stuff you smoke in the backyard every morning must be clouding your judgment. Cough cough cough

    • Mr you have no idea what you are talking about. I know for a FACT you are WRONG about that! There may have PREVIOUSLY been some residents who LEGALLY smoked but it was never Shawn. Stop making false accusations. Would you like it if I accused you of being an a**hole without knowing you?

  7. My feelings and most who live mid island are very much against all concepts of this sellout to developers..I believe the homeless need to be dealt with mainly by offering mental health counceling..but honestly I have not seen that in the plan..the whole deal is not in keeping with the community..

  8. I dont want it at all…my retirement get away is only a few steps from the church…I tried the “fell sorry for the homeless routine” twice and both times a disaster…dont want it…should comply with the rest of the island…3 stories MAX….have homeless everywhere…again going thru my place my yard and stealing…been there…you have NO IDEA what you are creating….GREED..all I see is GREED….not help..

  9. Give the church a chance. This is a starting point. I agree too tall and perhaps not in keeping with what was previously there. However, the island has changed forever. This church, Pastor Shawn and the parishioners have done so much good for the community before and after Ian. No insurance makes thinking outside the box important for them to survive post Ian

  10. Free meals has ony increased the vagrants and homeless arriving by the bus. Not a great option to offer. Brings vagrantsfurther sout lh down the island. Betterto offer Free mental health counseling services then free food

    • Agreed, Alex. We can no longer be a safe have for vagrants and homeless. Why? Pastor Shawn and his congregation should think about taking care of them OFF ISLAND(s). And counseling? AGREED and again OFF ISLAND(s).

      • Yes, Exactly.. The old “Not in my backyard!” reasoning. Send them “somewhere else”, has always been the Christian thing to do.

  11. Creative plan. Too tall. Not a fan of the architectural concept as depicted. Great to keep the ministry going. Much too intense for the area of the island labeled “quiet middle”. There will be far fewer people who need the meal services with the unfortunate loss of lower cost annual rental housing. I am not a fan of attracting vagrants. If the reasonably priced housing can actually be built at today’s material costs, more power to them. “Employed people apartments” yes. Going to be very interesting to watch polite dialogue unfold.


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