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Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Marks 120th Anniversary

posted on September 22, 2013, under Conference by

An excerpt of the October 10, 1893, issue of The [Advent] Review and [Sabbath] Herald, describing the events of organizing Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

The October 10, 1893, issue of The [Advent] Review and [Sabbath] Herald, described the events of organizing Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

On this date, September 22, Florida Conference celebrates its 120th anniversary of its foundation in 1893. On that date, 13 delegates chosen by six churches gathered in the small community of Barberville (Flickr photoset link, ©Amanda Baird/BlackDoll Photography). At 3:00 p.m., the first of a series of meetings, September 22-25, was called to order. The first order of business was to organize the Seventh-day Adventists of Florida into a State Conference which was unanimously voted.

The new Conference began life with three ordained ministers, two licensed ministers, and 139 members, with a territory comprising all of Florida. (There were two territorial changes later: in 1908, seven northwestern counties were given to the Alabama Conference, and two others in 1922; a tenth was transferred in 1932 to the new Alabama-Mississippi Conference, known today as the Gulf States Conference). More history of the early work in Florida is available on the Florida Conference web site. Also, pages 12-13 of The [Advent] Review and [Sabbath] Herald (Adobe .PDF links) report on Florida Conference’s beginnings.

Florida Conference's earliest permanent headquarters on the corner of Rosalind and Robinson Avenues.

Florida Conference’s earliest permanent headquarters on the corner of Rosalind and Robinson Avenues.

From the information we’ve been able to obtain, Florida Conference’s earliest decades operated out of a variety of temporary offices, possibly corresponding with Orlando churches. Then, the congregation known today as Orlando Central Church built a facility in 1917 on the corner of Rosalind and Robinson Avenues which was designed to also permanently house the Florida Conference offices. The Conference moved into its own building at some point between 1923 and 1928. The Orlando church continued to use the Rosalind/Robinson building until 1956. It no longer exists today.

Florida Conference's headquarters at 311 N. Rosalind Ave. (Photo: Google Street View, March 2011)

Florida Conference’s headquarters at 311 N. Rosalind Ave. (Photo: Google Street View, March 2011)

In the 1920s, Florida Conference built its own separate office facility neighboring the former Orlando Central Church. At this time, the exact year is uncertain since some internal records, including the Centennial issue of Florida Focus (Adobe .PDF link), report 1923 as the move-in date; however, property records for Orange County claim the facility was built in 1928.

The former downtown Orlando headquarters location is still standing and, as of early 2012, was being used by an environmental/civil land surveying and consulting company.

The Rosalind Building sale was finalized before construction of the Rollins building was complete. So, from 1958-1960, Florida Conference operated out of a large old house on Hillcrest Ave., not far from the Rosalind Building. The house no longer exists.

Florida Conference headquarters at 616 E. Rollins St.

Florida Conference headquarters at 616 E. Rollins St.

The Rollins Building, completed in 1960, initially housed administration on the upper floor, the Adventist Book Center on the lower floor, and ministry departments on a split level (far right in this photo). The ABC later moved into an addition made on the building’s west side, and ministry departments expanded into the ABC’s former location on the bottom floor. More information about this new building can be read on page 10 of the November 25, 1959, Southern Tidings, and page 4 of the March 2, 1960, Southern Tidings (Adobe .PDF links).

Florida Conference's current-but-soon-to-be-vacated headquarters at 655 N. Wymore Rd. (Photo: Dale Clark)

Florida Conference’s current-but-soon-to-be-vacated headquarters at 655 N. Wymore Rd. (Photo: Dale Clark)

After vacating the building in 1992, it was used for several years by Florida Hospital for the human resources office and other departments. It was demolished in 2005 to make room for the new Florida Hospital Ginsburg Tower. (Interestingly, the Ginsburg Tower Emergency Room entrance is now in almost the exact spot where the main south entrance to Florida Conference was located.)

Florida Conference's future home at 351 S. State Rd. 434 in Altamonte Springs.

Florida Conference’s future home at 351 S. State Rd. 434 in Altamonte Springs.

The Wymore Road building stood vacant for a considerable time with no interior walls or features. After Florida Conference purchased the building, the interior was renovated to specification, including space for the Adventist Book Center in the entire north half of the ground floor. The building’s grand opening was in the summer of 1992.

The Wymore building and property were purchased by the Florida Department of Transportation on January 27, 2012, to make room for expansion on Interstate 4. Florida Conference is currently using the facility rent-free until its relocation in early 2014 to 351 S. State Rd. 434 in Altamonte Springs.


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