Gregory Vega Rodriguez
Georgy Vega Rodriguez
Georgy Vega Rodriguez
Dunnellon, Fla., Church held a celebratory service on July 15, 2023, when this group of believers were transferred from a company to an official Florida Conference church. These administrative employees contributed to the day’s program: Tim Goff, executive secretary; Orlando Lopez, vice president for pastoral ministries; and Walter Castro, field associate for Volunteer Lay Pastors (VLP).
“Becoming an official church today after several years of hard work and miracles is the cause of an astonishing emotional celebration,” stated Castro.
John Ryals, one of the first original elders who still serves as an active member, presented the church history. Glenda Bates read the roll call of original founding members of the church.
Goff brought congratulations and best wishes from Florida Conference administration. Lopez presented the divine worship message for the church service. Castro presented the framed church recognition certificate from Florida Conference.
Volunteer Lay Pastor
Robert Ramoutar, first elder, was commissioned as a volunteer lay pastor. His wife, Karima Ramoutar, is the church treasurer. The pastors laid hands upon the couple, dedicating them to the Lord.
When the idea of having an Adventist church was only a dream, Art Swaningson, pastor, decided to hold an evangelistic meeting in Dunnellon. The Lord blessed with several baptisms, and the small group began to meet on a regular basis. A place was rented to worship on Sabbath. Not long after this, Swaningson held a second series of meetings and several more were baptized.
While renting from Community Fellowship Baptist Church in October of 2001, that church offered to sell the facility to the Dunnellon Adventist mission group. After many prayers, Ocala Church agreed to be co-signers for a loan, and Florida Conference agreed to donate the rest of the money needed for the down payment. With generous gifts of many members and a couple of larger donations, the mortgage was burned on May 21, 2005.
With such a small group of members, all regularly attending members had a church office. The Ocala treasurer kept the books, and Ocala elders preached several Sabbaths a month. Dunnellon has always been mission-minded, serving the local community and abroad. Members invited neighbors and local town residents to attend cooking classes, and soon the first Vacation Bible School was held. One of the first outreach projects was to help build a church in Bolivia.
As the group continued to grow, the need for a larger facility became a necessity. After looking at different properties, the funeral home just a block away was put on the market at a non-affordable price. Florida Conference became aware of the property and sent someone to investigate the possibilities of acquiring it. A study was done to see what immediate repairs were required. The price was lowered since the building required a new roof, and two A/C units had been stolen and had to be replaced in addition to other repairs. It sat on the market for a number of months, and the price went down as extensive repairs had to be made. The attorney representing the Conference made an offer which was accepted. All the members went to work to get the church ready to receive a Certificate of Occupancy for Dedication Day on November 11, 2017.
Over the years, people with special talents have come at just the right time to help the Dunnellon group thrive with a passion to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus — to share with people in the community the knowledge of Christ.
Florida | September 2023