There was an undeniable sense of joy, gratitude, and accomplishment among those who attended Forest City Spanish Church on Sabbath morning, March 25, 2017. The day was the culmination of a two-year journey filled with great challenges and even greater miracles for this 1,500-member congregation.
In January 2015, a small group of church leaders and pastors were given the first tour of a former church property available to any congregation willing to show a logical plan to fulfill their mission in the surrounding community, and willing to pay the asking price of 10 million dollars. As the group examined the campus, they visualized how to utilize every square foot while feeling a sense of limitations and inability to make such a financial leap.
Nearly 50 other congregations had taken the tour, dared to dream, and walked out knowing that only a collection of undeniable miracles could make their dreams a reality. The difference came for Forest City Spanish Church when Vicmael Arroyo, senior pastor, visited Duane Rollins, Florida Conference treasurer, and Mike Cauley, president of Florida Conference, with the hope of convincing them to be dreamers.
As the weeks went on, the group of dreamers and prayer warriors continued to grow. The following months were filled with long days and late nights working to negotiate the price of the property to a more realistic number; creating a plan to pay for it; and obtaining approvals from the church’s board of directors, members, and the Conference Executive Committee.
Through many miracles, a potential loan was available in late May 2015, a payment plan had been devised, the original price had been reduced to less than half, and a clear sense of God’s guidance permeated. It was time to act. The Conference Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve the project, and the final offer was made and accepted by the bank.
After analyzing the property, a new set of challenges were discovered. An intimidating amount of renovation needed to be made and paid for in order to bring the abandoned property up to the codes set by local authorities, as well as the needs of the congregation. This led to a time of hard work, great sacrifice, and much prayer to move forward day after day and month after month. A planned six-month renovation effort turned into a year-and-a-half journey.
On December 31, 2016, hours before the start of another year and almost two years after the first prayers were raised heavenward, Forest City Spanish Church members worshiped for the first time in their new 2,000-seat auditorium. Work continued on the building, and on March 25 the church and property were consecrated to the use of God’s work in the surrounding neighborhoods through their ministries and community service efforts. There was no doubt that this edifice dedicated to God, was indeed a collective victory!
Florida | June 2017