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Miracles and Milestones Highlighted at Grand Opening

posted on August 08, 2014, under Conference, Relocation, Video Report by

The article below features excerpts from Florida Conference’s Grand Opening ceremony. A complete video recording of the program is also available with this link.

The new Florida Conference headquarters at 351 S. State Road 434 in Altamonte Springs. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

The new Florida Conference headquarters at 351 S. State Road 434 in Altamonte Springs. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

Florida Conference ribbon-cutting participants, from left: Lee Constantine, Seminole County Commissioner; Duane Rollins, Florida Conference Treasurer; Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President; Carmen Rodríguez, Florida Conference Executive Secretary; and Pat Bates, Altamonte Springs Mayor. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Florida Conference ribbon-cutting participants, from left: Lee Constantine, Seminole County Commissioner; Duane Rollins, Florida Conference Treasurer; Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President; Carmen Rodríguez, Florida Conference Executive Secretary; and Pat Bates, Altamonte Springs Mayor. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

by Martin Butler, Lee Bennett

“This is a milestone day!” declared Florida Conference President Mike Cauley as he extended a warm welcome to more than 400 well-wishers who gathered June 1 for the grand opening celebration of Florida Conference’s headquarters and the renamed Adventist Book Center, A Better Choice.

“Who would have thought a few years ago when the Department of Transportation told us they were going to widen Interstate 4 and we needed to find a new home, that God would lead us in such a marvelous way?” Mike asked.

“It’s quite a miracle how we ended up with this building,” responded Florida Conference Property Development Director Kathy Deering. “Scott Fish, President of UP Development, bought this former upscale furniture store for demolition. It was his intention to develop this site for a relocated Walmart store; however, Scott was not able to get that project off the ground. Later, he suggested all the stars were aligned for us, but we know it wasn’t the stars. God had a bigger and better plan.”

The building features eight areas called Pillars with raised ceilings and skylights through which an abundance of sunlight streaming in represents our call to go out and light the world. The large central Pillar houses a depiction of Jesus as the Water of Life and serves as a casual common area for employees and guests. The fountain was generously donated by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

The building features eight areas called Pillars with raised ceilings and skylights through which an abundance of sunlight streaming in represents our call to go out and light the world. The large central Pillar houses a depiction of Jesus as the Water of Life and serves as a casual common area for employees and guests. The fountain was generously donated by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

As an afternoon rain subsided, President Cauley invited local leaders to say a few words. Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine spoke first. “I was four years old when my family moved to Central Florida. Living on Bear Lake Road near Forest Lake Academy, we were welcomed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church family. Thus, today, as a former state senator and now as county commissioner, it is a real honor to welcome you to Altamonte Springs.

“In my younger days, when I was a city commissioner in Altamonte Springs, I had the honor of being Florida Hospital Altamonte Foundation President. The services your churches and hospitals provide to all of us in Central Florida, and to Altamonte Springs in particular, are such a blessing to this community.”

Playfully chiding the commissioner, Pat Bates stepped forward and declared, “Yes, but I’m the mayor of this awesome city, and this is a good place to be. I attended events here when it was Robb & Stucky, and as I walked into the entrance a few minutes ago, I thought you had razed the building and put up a new one. It’s amazing in there, and I can’t wait to take the tour.

“With Florida Hospital Altamonte and Adventist Health System headquarters already in our city, now we have this awesome building with a deli and a book store which are so badly needed in our community. I can’t tell you how blessed Altamonte Springs is to have Seventh-day Adventists as part of our city.”

Seven of the building’s Pillars are themed on principles of discipleship: Teaching, Surrendering to God’s Will, Faithfulness as a Steward, The Call to Mission, Growing in Grace, Communion with God, and Service through Ministries of Compassion. Meeting rooms, such as the one pictured above, were created beneath the four Pillars within the Conference office. The other three Pillars are in the book store. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

Seven of the building’s Pillars are themed on principles of discipleship: Teaching, Surrendering to God’s Will, Faithfulness as a Steward, The Call to Mission, Growing in Grace, Communion with God, and Service through Ministries of Compassion. Meeting rooms, such as the one pictured above, were created beneath the four Pillars within the Conference office. The other three Pillars are in the book store. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

Humbled by these kind greetings from the mayor and commissioner, it was Adventist leadership’s time to seize the moment and represent the Church well. Ken Denslow, Assistant to the North American Division President, spoke first:

“We hire architects who help us cast our vision through buildings. We build, and it says something about who we are, what we believe, and what we stand for. This beautiful, beautiful place says much about Florida Conference but, more importantly, it says much about the God we serve. May this be the center out of which great ministry to communities throughout Florida takes place.”

Next, Southern Union Conference President Ron Smith challenged the crowd, “The church is not a preservatory for pickled saints or a waiting station for those who quest to sprout wings and halos to be launched into glory. The Church has a real responsibility to be relevant in our culture, introduce men and women to Jesus through our mission, and set men and women with heavy burdens free in our surrounding community.

“It is my prayer that, in this beautiful edifice you’ve built to God’s testament for service to this community, you will operationalize the love of Jesus in a very tangible way.”

Spinning off the words of those speaking before him, Lars Houmann, CEO and President of Florida Hospital, told of the vision Mike Cauley shared with the Florida Conference Executive Committee a short time earlier. “Pastor Cauley did a fantastic job. I was inspired as he articulated how this place could become a real presence in the community and move forward in benefit and outreach!

“I really want to see that come true. I encourage all of you to see this location as a place where the community can achieve and receive grace, nutrition, choice, and all the things we articulate through Florida Hospital’s CREATION Health moniker. This place has that potential!”

Veteran shoppers and new clientele from the community find the newly renamed A Better Choice: Books • Deli • Natural Foods an enjoyable place to shop or have a healthy lunch. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

Veteran shoppers and new clientele from the community find the newly renamed A Better Choice: Books • Deli • Natural Foods an enjoyable place to shop or have a healthy lunch. (Photo: Ben Tanner Photography)

Mike Cauley then gave his closing perspective on the milestone day. “This wasn’t a project we went out for. It was something that came to us in terms of opportunity and necessity. If we were going to build an office, we wanted to underscore our reason for existence.

“What you see within this property is about our purpose—making mature disciples, preparing people for the coming of Jesus. We believe God has called us to empower the churches, pastors, educational institutions, educators, and our office staff to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

“So, today is not about us, but about stewardship. This space has been created for service. It is about the privilege God has given us to become the light of the world.

“And now, we pray that people’s lives will be restored because of the empowerment of ministry and service that comes out of this place. We pray for the congregations and people who come to churches wanting to find meaning, and for schools where young people are disciplined to maturity, that they will become empowered by the grace of God to do great and mighty things.

“Bless this place. We pray that You’ll protect it and make it a lighthouse—a beacon of hope for this community. May the Spirit of God always have His way.”


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