Altamonte Springs Church History
Before the first Annual International Food Festival, before ingathering, even before the gym was built, the then conference President, Elder H.H. Schmidt along with 56 members organized the Altamonte Springs Church on February 4th 1961. This was the beginnings of a church that was soon to grow to over 500 members, a thriving bible bowl team, an active pathfinder club, and a devoted church family.
Fifty years ago, the then 56 member congregation met in the Altamonte Springs Library. There they chose members for the building committee and started the search for their new church home. Under the direction of future pastor, Elder Warren C. Strawn, together the church decided to purchase land. With this purchased land, and donated land from Mr. Albert Bradwell, the church was able to start building. A Chapel along with a few Sabbath school rooms were constructed and was the beginning of something great. Even today, we continue to fondly refer to the south wing of our sanctuary as the chapel.
Under the leadership of elders French, LA Fave, Ortner, and Villemain the Altamonte Springs Church grew quickly, and in the early 1970’s plans for a larger church came into play. Approximately 50,000 dollars was needed to start the building process. Nine acres of land that was previously owned was sold to help pay for the project, but the members of the Altamonte Springs Church were not done yet. With direction from Pastor Du Bose, on May 20th 1973 ground was broken, and with hundreds of volunteer hours and many fundraising events, the members worked hard and the church was erected quickly. Almost a year later, on Sabbath June 8th 1974 the first service was held in the brand new sanctuary. There was great rejoicing, but more work had to be done. Mortgages totaling approximately $ 185,000 had to be paid off. In 1979, under the leadership of Pastor Rainey Hooper, the debt was finally paid and the mortgage liquidated. What great accomplishment in such a short time! Hallelujah!
The Altamonte Springs Church, continued to grow and soon a new goal was set for the church family to meet. Under Pastor Clifford Robbins the old Community Services/Social building was torn down and the current Family/Youth building was put in its place. In 1991 Pastor Ron Bentzinger made a push toward paying off the debt on the Family/Youth building. Once again, church members sacrificially gave to advance the liquidation of this debt. By faith, the church family set a date for the mortgage to be paid, and on March 28, 1992 a special offering was collected to meet the last bit of the goal. When the money was counted, not enough had been collected and Brother Leewag along with other members insisted that the offering plate be passed around a second time, this time urging the congregation to give all they had. That very same day God provided and more than enough money was given. Soon after, the building debt was liquidated and another mortgage was burned. Looking back, members remember this as another high day for the church family. Hallelujah!
In 1994, a renovation committee was organized. The members included Charles Evers as chairman, Pastor Ron Bentzinger, Alvin Adams, Mirtha Alvarez, Steven Bradley, Larry Gray, Willie Kendall and Joyce Yates. The sanctuary was renovated for Altamonte Springs Church rededication and thanksgiving celebration, more than 20 years after the sanctuary doors were officially open.
Over the years the Altamonte Springs Church has participated in a range of activities. Several members including Brother and Sister Lee, Elder Josie Oates, and many others can still remember going “Ingathering” in the back of pickup trucks under the stars. Some sang, while others went door to door soliciting funds. Afterwards, they would return to enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and fellowship. An active community service ministry and community outreach, can be seen throughout the history of the church. In 2010, this community service outreach is evident under the leadership of Sister SharonRose Bollers and others who serve in this ministry. Each Sunday, the Altamonte Springs Community is fed, witnessed to, and provided health workshops through the Soup Kitchen, that was launched by Sister Bollers and others.
Another community outreach activity that continues to grow, can be seen in the thriving success of the youth in the Altamonte Springs Church Knights Pathfinder club and Bible Bowl team. The dynamic Pathfinder club championship Bible Bowl team was crowned National Bible Bowl Champions during a six year consecutive period. This team continues to win awards even to this present time. The church has historically enjoyed family friendly socials on Saturday nights. In earlier years, this included the “Adventist March” that was a highlight of the evening.
Additional exciting events in the history of Altamonte Springs Church include the yearly auction, a fund raiser where baked goods, arts and crafts were sold to raise funds for the church. The International Food Festival, held in November, was and continues to be a well attended event where the church family and visitors enjoys food, fellowship, and cultures from a variety of countries. Then, there is the yearly church retreat that continues to be a cherished event. The Altamonte Springs church also took part in modern evangelism. The church was one of 4,000 down link sites in the North American division to air the Net ‘95 World Evangelistic Series presented by Mark Finley. That was a blessing. The church is also privileged to have ASC Productions (Altamonte Springs Church), a ministry which records weekly services that can be made available to shut-in-member and visitors. That is also a blessing!
Today, 50 years later, February 19th 2011 the Altamonte Springs Church is celebrating 50 years of Gods Amazing Grace! Together, with the leadership of Pastor Mark Waters, we thank God for allowing the church to come this far by faith and pray that with His help, we can continue to do His work as we grow together and work together to complete our mission to tell the world about Jesus, His love and His soon return.