by Nori Nicholas
Mention must be made of some very special people who were key in the very early years of our church…
Some Special People
Florence Kain, she was a retired church secretary who was restless and came out of her retirement to become David’s secretary. David’s main gift was his leadership and his exuberant contagious love for the Lord, but since he had no previous church experience before going to seminary, he had no knowledge of the formats and structures for church governance. Florence Kain became his guide in these matters.
Kinnis Shumacher was a retired executive from Shell Oil who had moved from Ohio to settle in Boca Raton. Kinnis loved to do bookkeeping, and he donated his time to do all the bookkeeping for the church. What started out as a few hours a week eventually grew to become a full 40 hour a week job. When his health prevented him from handling this job Al Coty came alongside and together they acted as a volunteer team of bookkeepers. Eventually Kinnis was forced by failing health to relinquish his job and Lynn Hogg took over what would become a growing financial department.
Murray Lands, a retired lawyer from Long Island, was very concerned because we had no missions program. He brought his concerns to the other elders and they agreed with him that we needed to start supporting missionary endeavors. Soon he had a long list of missionaries from many different agencies in many different parts of the world. Spanish River Church would carve out 10% of the budget and share this money – in small sums – among many various people and projects. He established the pattern for the church to tithe all of its tithes and offerings.
Meanwhile Boca Raton was growing because of the increasing importance of its technology industry. The IMB PC was being manufactured in Boca and many high tech companies started to establish a presence in town. Spanish River Church was also growing and many of the new faces showing up at services were from that tech world. We were filling the church building three times on a week-end, the parking was becoming a problem and the city refused to grant permission for us to expand without also adding significant parking space. It became evident that we had maxed out our location.
The Move To Yamato Road
One of the elders of the church, Norm Cortese, was a vice president of the Arvida Corporation. Arvida was in the midst of negotiating with the city to build a new subdivision, Broken Sound. The city was demanding a lower density. When Norm shared his problem with David, he said, “I can help you with that. Just give the church some acreage and that will take down your density!” The comment was made in jest but it ended up being the basis of a plan. The property that is now Broken Sound was at that time the Bo’s U Pick em Farm. The property that is now church row was an inaccessible swamp and Yamato Road had not yet been built beyond Military Trail.
Yamato Road was in the city’s plans for expansion and would provide a natural dividing point between the property scheduled to become Broken Sound and the 40 acres on the other side of the road. Arvida went to the planning and zoning board with the suggestion that those 40 acres be zoned for religious and educational use.
The city agreed, and Arvida offered the property to Spanish River Church at $29,000 per acre. The elders concluded that 20 acres would be adequate and chose the corner property at St. Andrews and Yamato.
We had a fundraising campaign, and the money was raised to purchase the land in 1980. We bought the land in faith that someday there would actually be roads in place to give us access to the property! We continued to struggle on with overcrowded facilities and finally Yamato Road was completed.
We put our church property up for sale with the hope that we could sell it to someone who would lease it back to us so we could meet there till we could build a new church building. In a very short period of time we got our first offer. It was a full price cash offer from the Jewish Federation. The only problem was that they wanted to have immediate possession of the property. David went into whirlwind mode searching for a place where we could move our 450+ congregation into temporary quarters.
Spanish River High School had just been completed and they agreed to allow the church to rent their cafeteria plus several classrooms for four hours on Sundays. The church still owned the White Wind building so the school was not disturbed by this change. One wing of that building was hastily remodeled to house the church offices, and the sale was completed. Unfortunately with this shift, housing for seminary students was lost and the South Florida presence of Westminster Seminary came to an end.
The plans for the new church and a building to be used for the preschool and elementary school were ready to go, and permits were in process. It took 20 months for that new building to be completed. They were very long months indeed. The logistics of setting up and pulling down nurseries, Sunday School classrooms and of course the Worship room for such a large group grew tiresome. The congregation held on for the first year, but as the building process dragged on we started to have significant attrition. It was with great joy that we celebrated the completion and dedication of that first complex of buildings.
The first worship center was at the east end of the property in what is now the gymnasium. The school and the church offices were in the building that is now used by the elementary school and the school library.
A New Way To Do Missions And A New Way To Worship