Bill & Dianne Diffenderfer
Bill and Dianne Diffenderfer first attended North Point Community Church in Atlanta in 1995, before North Point even had a permanent location. They were quickly drawn to the church. “It was so comfortable,” Dianne said. “You didn’t have to know a ‘secret handshake’ or the words to the songs. Once we experienced that comfort level, we didn’t want to leave.”
Bill and Dianne were excited about North Point and continued attending. But in 1998, they moved to the community of Buckhead, 45 minutes from North Point. For a while, they drove to North Point, but soon decided that they needed to find a church closer to home. They started attending a local church, but would often take their new friends back to North Point.
During that same time, David McDaniel, a member of their local church, and two other men were talking to North Point about starting a church in Buckhead that would model North Point. Shortly thereafter, Bill and Dianne, the McDaniels, and 33 other families decided to start a new church in Buckhead.
North Point “adopted” the group of families, and the group grew to be a satellite campus of North Point, known as Buckhead Church. “Buckhead Church just exploded in attendance,” Bill said. “There was a need for a North Point-type church in Buckhead.”
In 2003, Bill and Dianne began considering a move to Florida for business reasons and quality of life. A year later, they started making plans for an August 2005 move to Jacksonville.
In July 2005, Bill met with David McDaniel, who had since become North Point’s director of strategic partnerships, to discuss an idea for a foundation that would help churches. The conversation turned toward Michael Morales, who was also moving to Jacksonville from Atlanta and was interested in starting a North Point church in Jacksonville. “David suggested that I meet with Michael when I got to Jacksonville,” Bill said.
Bill and Dianne moved to Jacksonville with no intentions of being part of a North Point church plant. They wanted to find an established, like-minded church to attend. “We visited about five churches when we first got to Jacksonville,” Dianne said. “We were disappointed, though. They used some of North Point’s ministry models, but watered them down.”
In October, Bill and Dianne traveled back to Atlanta so that their daughter could be baptized at Buckhead Church. That Sunday, North Point’s Andy Stanley preached on prayer. “Andy said that prayer was good for faith-building and that we should pray for something big so that, when it was answered, we would know that it was God,” Dianne said. “We decided, as a family, that we would pray for a church in Jacksonville that we could love as much as we loved North Point and Buckhead.”
The next morning, Bill got an email from Michael Morales suggesting that they meet for lunch to discuss a North Point strategic partnership church in Jacksonville. Bill was unable to attend the lunch, but forwarded the email to Dianne, asking her to attend in his absence. Dianne excitedly met with Michael, and Bill and Dianne joined the group of families that would later become Access Church. “God really answered our prayers for a church we would love,” Dianne said.
Bill and Dianne are excited for what Access Church will bring to Jacksonville. “The environments are entertaining, attractive, not judgmental, and not invasive,” Bill said. “You can sit in the back of the room forever, and no one will bother you. But, over time, you’ll want to go deeper and get to the level of accepting Jesus.”.