Friday, March 16, 2012
Looking Toward Wekiva Presbyterian Church's 35th Anniversary...
The Presbytery of St. Johns anticipated the growth of the area that now comprises Sweetwater, Sabal Point, Wekiva Hunt Club, Sweetwater Country Club, and The Springs in the early 1970s. The New Church Development Committee of the Presbytery had recommended the purchase of land, here, in keeping with the expected growth in our area. In August 1976, the Rev. Hugh C. Hamilton was appointed by the Presbytery to begin developing the congregation and soon a nucleus of people began to form. The church was chartered on May 1, 1977 with 134 persons signing the Charter, making Wekiva the 40th church in the Presbytery. The church began meeting in the hardware store in Sweetwater Square and then moved to Sabal Point Elementary School.
According to Rev. Paul Leap who came to work at the Presbytery in the Spring of 1978, the land on which the church stands was bought from the Wiseman University Trust on March 3, 1978 for the cost of $31,500. Instrumental in its purchase were Dr. James H. (Jim) Monroe (Stated Clerk of the Presbytery) and Bill Lee (Chair of the Home Mission Division, now called Church Development Committee), who are both now retired and living at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee. (I am grateful to our Executive Presbyter, the Rev. Dr. Paige McRight for the research regarding those early days).
(This Wekiva Presbyterian Church history moment is in anticipation of our 35th anniversary on the first Sunday in May).
Some thoughts regarding this first installment.
Notice that it was the Presbytery that had the idea of a church, before even one church member appeared on the scene. Notice as well that the Presbytery found, bought and paid for the land that would eventually become the land our church rests upon.
Hmm. Found. Bought. And paid for.
I suppose it is easy for us to remember this, since it was only 35 years ago. But I do know of churches (you do, too) that conveniently forget that the Presbytery had anything to do with their birth, indeed with their very conception.
People who are that mindset seem to think that their congregation sprang into being on its own, like Botticelli's "Venus on the Half Shell"...
...and so, of course, they also think that, should they decide to depart and decamp to some other denomination, they are somehow entitled to take part and parcel along with them.
That is silliness in the extreme.
Every congregation stands on the shoulders of those who came before them. Those who pretend otherwise are simply self-serving. You see what restraint I am using at not naming names. But I could!
Back to Wekiva's early history. Paul Leap was so instrumental in helping to nurture this congregation. He is a wonderful man--now living in retirement over in St Pete. His daughter and son and their families were all members of Wekvia and daughter Paula still is, although for the better part of the past year she and husband Michael have lived north of here. (Florida is one of the few places in the USA where the Carolinas are "north of here"!)
They read this blog regularly so here is a shout out to them and their whole family and especially to Paul, whose vision and hard work made the idea of a church at 211 Wekvia Springs Lane first a possibility and then a reality.
I suppose if a church were ancient, that church might have a sort of collective Alzheimer's, or some other form of denominational dementia, and forget the work of those fine pioneers of faith, such as Paul, and think that they themselves were the be all and the end all of the congregation. Let us never do that at Wekiva Presbyterian Church. We are proudly part of the Presbytery that formed us and we are ever so glad to be part of the PC(USA), one of its branches, one might say.
In response to this post, I had a lovely email from Renee, one of our elders, who passed along several quotes that I think also fit the idea of a church being indebted to those who came before them. Here is what she says...
Reading your blog this morning reminded me of this quote from Michael Ondaatje's wonderful "Running in the Family".
"I realize I am part of a human pyramid. Below me are other bodies I am standing on and above me, are several more, though I am quite near the top."
And from Gail Collins in a NY Times article,
"Behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring, frustrating things for a prolonged period of time."