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Archive for February, 2014

Crawfordville Church Members Celebrate 40th Anniversary

posted on February 10, 2014, under Church by

by Linda Peters

Forest Lake Academy students who facilitated Bible studies and evangelistic meetings are pictured with Crawfordville, Fla., Church's founding members in the 1970s.

Forest Lake Academy students who facilitated Bible studies and evangelistic meetings are pictured with Crawfordville, Fla., Church’s founding members in the 1970s.

Forty-one years ago, a small group of dedicated young people from Forest Lake Academy (FLA) in Apopka made a commitment to reach Crawfordville, a sparsely populated community in Wakulla County with no Adventist presence. After graduating from FLA, eight students with a desire to share the Gospel put their formal education aside to work on the front lines before enrolling in college. Working in several places, they were especially inspired by Tallahassee Church member Calvin Pierce who had a deep desire to plant an Adventist church in Crawfordville.

With bold purpose, the students visited the local postmaster and were granted permission to place notices in the Post Office with an offer for free Bibles and Bible studies. In addition, they walked the dusty roads, witnessing door to door. Within a few weeks, this group of dedicated youth, known as Maranatha Kids, signed up 85 people for Bible studies.

With no Adventist church structure in Crawfordville, arrangements were quickly made to hold evangelistic meetings in a small building known today as the Crawfordville Women’s Club. At the end of the series conducted by Tallahassee Church Pastor Tom Whitsett and his family, there was an altar call where all in attendance came forward to dedicate their lives to the Lord. Next, the newly baptized members, along with the FLA students, focused their efforts to building a new place of worship.

Founding members of Crawfordville, Fla., Church broke ground for their church building in 1974.

Founding members of Crawfordville, Fla., Church broke ground for their church building in 1974.

With this small group of dedicated pioneers, construction on Crawfordville Church began in March 1974. By February 1975, Crawfordville Company, sponsored by Tallahassee Church, had officially organized into Crawfordville Seventh-day Adventist Church with approximately 38 charter members.

Recently, the congregation celebrated its 40th anniversary. Pastors and elders who helped grow the church community during the past 40 years were invited to participate in the reunion events.

Services began Friday evening with prayer, music, and testimony by Pastor Whitsett, Pastor Rus Aldridge, and FLA student sponsor Larry Stephens. Familiar faces from the past joined with current members to celebrate the miracle which started from humble beginnings. Following the service, members enjoyed an agape feast in the church fellowship hall.

Crawfordville, Fla., Church member Noi Carlton, seated, was the first person to respond to an altar call at the evangelistic series that spawned Crawfordville Church. Also pictured from left: former pastors Rus Aldridge and Joe Straub; Larry Stephens, Forest Lake Academy Bible teacher and sponsor of Maranatha Kids; Scott Cronin, current pastor; and Tom Whitsett, founding pastor. (Photo: Mike Carlton)

Crawfordville, Fla., Church member Noi Carlton, seated, was the first person to respond to an altar call at the evangelistic series that spawned Crawfordville Church. Also pictured from left: former pastors Rus Aldridge and Joe Straub; Larry Stephens, Forest Lake Academy Bible teacher and sponsor of Maranatha Kids; Scott Cronin, current pastor; and Tom Whitsett, founding pastor. (Photo: Mike Carlton)

The theme for the Sabbath morning service, It Takes a Community, featured worship leader Tom Whitsett reminiscing about the series of miracles that took place, starting with a group of young people who wanted to make a difference, a few local folks who offered much-needed help, and conference leadership that saw a great need and responded quickly. Following the anniversary morning service, the church offered a potluck luncheon at the Crawfordville Women’s Club.

That evening, attendees returned to the church for a concert—from beloved hymns to modern praise and worship music—provided by local members as well as special guests April Spicer and Jake Jacobs.

Looking back, Crawfordville Church members will always remember that small group of young people from Forest Lake Academy who responded by planting seeds many years ago. Reflecting on those who plant the seeds and don’t always see how God blesses the fruits of their labor, there is a glad reminder of a great reunion day when they will receive their thanks face to face.

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Belleview Church Members Dedicate New Sanctuary

posted on February 10, 2014, under Church by

by Zlata Sabo

Belleview Church members dedicated their new sanctuary June 9, 2012. (Photo: Zlata Sabo)

Belleview Church members dedicated their new sanctuary June 9, 2012. (Photo: Zlata Sabo)

Early in 1981, a group of individuals from Ocala, Fla., decided to plant a new church south of town in Belleview. A local bank contributed its basement facilities for the congregation’s use on Sabbath afternoons after the bank had closed.

While enjoying the bank’s hospitality, the small group began donating money toward the purchase of five acres just outside the city limits and started making plans to build a church. Upon purchase of this land, and as soon as weather permitted, the congregation of 45 held a worship service on their newly acquired property. Soon after, a groundbreaking ceremony was held with officials from Florida Conference in attendance.

The newly organized church had three contractors in their congregation who supervised the construction and worked every Sunday with other members and nonAdventist friends in the labor of love. Dollar by dollar, brick by brick, the small congregation went forward in faith and began to build the church. Members pledged more than they could afford, and the Lord provided.

Within a year, the new building was completed debt free as each member generously gave their time, money, and talents. The new sanctuary, dedicated in April 1982, was to serve as a temporary place of worship. Almost immediately, plans were under way for a larger sanctuary.

As membership increased through the years, several additions were added to the original structure. Construction of a larger sanctuary was put on hold while the congregation continued to worship in the original 100-seat sanctuary.

With the arrival of Pastor Shawn Lathrom, church members renewed their commitment to building a new sanctuary. By this time, the church was bursting at its seams; however, Pastor Lathrom had decided to further his education and leave this pastorate.

Belleview Church members worship in their new 250-seat sanctuary. (Photo: Zlata Sabo)

Belleview Church members worship in their new 250-seat sanctuary. (Photo: Zlata Sabo)

For 30 years, the congregation never stopped giving funds toward building of a new sanctuary. By the time current Pastor Ric Pleasants arrived, a significant amount of money was in hand, and members were motivated to build. Several members sacrificially gave large sums of money for various projects such as a sound system, steeple, and a chandelier for the foyer.

The beginning of a new era for Belleview members began on June 9, 2012, with the dedication of their new sanctuary. Of the original 45 charter members, seven still attend. After 30 years of waiting, their hopes and dreams have become a reality; and, now, with other members and visitors, they worship the Lord in a new, spacious, 250-seat sanctuary.

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Couples Recommit To Marriage Vows

posted on February 10, 2014, under Church by

by Erik Garcia

Byron and Ximena Rivera presented a Family Life seminar at Lake Worth Spanish Church with 40 couples in attendance. (Photo: Omayra Vidal)

Byron and Ximena Rivera presented a Family Life seminar at Lake Worth Spanish Church with 40 couples in attendance. (Photo: Omayra Vidal)

Lake Worth, Fla., Spanish Church hosted a weekend Family Life seminar conducted by Byron and Ximena Rivera this past fall. The Adventura Matrimonial (Marital Adventure) seminar began on Friday evening and ended Saturday evening with 40 couples in attendance.

The closing gala included a banquet and vow renewal ceremony for the couples. The seminar was memorable for the entire congregation, but especially to the 40 couples who are taking advantage of the information to build solid relationships full of love and patience while seeking God’s presence in their homes.

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Food Pantry Client Develops Cookbook

posted on February 10, 2014, under Church by

by Bob Halstead

Homosassa Church members prepared a cookbook of simple and practical recipes for dozens of families who use the church's Food Pantry services. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Homosassa Church members prepared a cookbook of simple and practical recipes for dozens of families who use the church’s Food Pantry services. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Members of Homosassa, Fla., Church compiled a cookbook as a special gift for families served twice a month at their Food Pantry. The cookbook contains recipes for the foods they distribute.

The recipes could hardly be considered gourmet; yet, “they provide a very practical and simple approach to cooking,” says the brainchild of the project. Although she prefers to remain anonymous, she is one of the Pantry’s former clients and was baptized in January.

The Food Pantry was started more than four years ago in an effort to meet and serve the community around the church and is well received by the 60-75 families who use its services.

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Silver Springs Shores Church Dedicates Agape Center

posted on February 10, 2014, under Church by

by Norma Henry

Silver Springs Shores Church members dedicated their Agape Center at a mortgage burning ceremony in November. (Photo: Joe Newman)

Silver Springs Shores Church members dedicated their Agape Center at a mortgage burning ceremony in November. (Photo: Joe Newman)

Silver Springs Shores Church in Ocala, Fla., celebrated a dedicatory service in November that included burning the mortgage for their Agape Center. The two-year early payoff was due to the sacrifice of members as their vision and planning came to fruition.

More than a decade ago, members recognized the need for a multipurpose building as a safe place for healthy recreational activities for the young people of the church and community. Pastor Matthew Christo, together with the BeSmart team which promotes healthy lifestyles, were commended for hosting a Wednesday night exercise and Bible class for 40-50 young people from the community. “How thankful I am for the opportunity to participate in the exercise classes held weekly in the Agape Center,” said one of the visitors.

Silver Springs Shores Church Pastor Matthew Christo burns the mortgage for the Agape Center which was paid off two years early. (Photo: Joe Newman)

Silver Springs Shores Church Pastor Matthew Christo burns the mortgage for the Agape Center which was paid off two years early. (Photo: Joe Newman)

Pastor Christo led the Agape Center dedication service that included former Pastor Creaton Francis. Representing Florida Conference were Marvin Williams, Ministerial Field Secretary, and Conrad Duncan, Vice President for Administration and Director of Stewardship.

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