Set Free: a Church for Recovery and Redemption

By Eizabeth Matthews

I’m sitting across from someone I’ve spoken to many times over text and through phone calls, but never in person. I struggled to connect the tattooed, bearded man, sporting a bikeresque vibe – with the gentle pastor I’ve slightly come to know.

He is not what you would expect when meeting a pastor. Within five minutes of talking to him, I recognize he’s a humble, unassuming guy, whose life is dedicated in service to God and has a loving heart for those he serves.

He struggled to talk about himself. However, I learned that he is a recovery program graduate and former addict who now lives a life of service out of gratitude. Pastor Souter is the founder and director of Set Free Church in Yulee, Fl. who moved to Nassau County with his family nine years ago to start the ministry.

Set Free Church is not only a church but, a five-month residential program serving adult men with addiction, homelessness and other struggles. The ministry provides an intensive Bible-based discipleship program that seeks to set men free and on the path to redemption. It includes Biblical study, spiritual growth and a service component. The program culminates in a two-month commitment to serving the community.

Upon graduation, these men seamlessly become part of the fabric of the local area with ongoing service work and employment with small businesses in the county. The men live together, serve together and support one another on their journey to recovery. One beneficiary of the program provides his testimony on the organization’s website.

He is one of 1900 people the ministry has helped over the years. As an addict, he knew he needed help, but ultimately decided to join the program to make his mom happy. Through Set Free Church, God showed him how to deal with and change the characteristics he gained as an addict and in exchange he became a better man, better father and a better son.

Pastor Souter and the staff at Set Free Church have plans to grow the ministry, starting with a new church building to be erected on the property behind the residences. Plans also include, expanding the program to serve women in need. With a policy of helping everyone who asks, Set Free Church has its work cut out.

The ministry is unique as it is 100% donor funded and totally free to the program recipients. Donations are accepted via the website or through the mail. Set Free Church has weekly worship services on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The ministry website states, “The purpose of the Set Free Church is to share Jesus with people distressed through life’s crises: drug addiction, alcoholism, homelessness, or a lack of self-discipline and purpose in life.”

I asked Pastor Souter what he would like people to know about Set Free Church, he simply said, “Sinners welcome.” This week, Set Free Ministries reaches its ninth year; an anniversary celebration is planned for Saturday April 15, beginning at 10 a.m. and is open to the public. Set Free Ministries is located at 850482 U.S. Highway 17 S. in Yulee, Fl. and can be found online at

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Jason M
Jason M (@guest_68322)
1 year ago

Sinners welcome should be on the heart of every believer

Matthew Norman
Matthew Norman (@guest_68395)
1 year ago

I’m a successful graduate of this discipleship ministry program. Souter is the real deal. He preaches brutal true doctrine and shines a light on how many struggles in life are a spiritual issue and how good works are a bi product of salvation and not the other way around.