by Nori Nicholas
Over the years there have been thousands of people who have called SRC their church home. Each one has brought the gift of their talent, personality, creativity and ideas that has impacted and created the unique church culture that exists at SRC.
It would be impossible to mention each person. But some need special mention because of the important role that they played in the growth and formation of SRC.
Gary Treichler: Small Groups Ministry & Executive Pastor
Spanish River Church from early days had used small groups as a format for doing ministry. As the church grew small groups became an important way that people could find personal connections within the larger body of the church. In 1991 Gary Treichler joined the ministry team at SRC to expand the small group ministry. Under his direction every ministry in the church was “small grouped.” Also the purpose of the small groups expanded to include team ministries and outreach. These were “missional communities” even though back then the word “Missional” had not yet been coined! By the time he left in 2002 there were over 200 hundred small groups in the church. Gary also served as executive pastor for five years.
Ron Tobias: Executive Pastor
When Gary Treichler moved to Ohio in 1996 the position of Executive Pastor needed to be filled. There was a businessman in the congregation whom David Nicholas had been encouraging to move into full time ministry. His name was Ron Tobias and he was in business with his father and brother. When hurricane Andrew roared through south Florida their business was one the many things that was destroyed. The Tobias family had spent four years trying to rebuild their business. In 1996 Ron was persuaded to change his direction and he felt the Lord call him into ministry full time. He came on staff at SRC to be the executive pastor, a job that he still doing to this day with great skill.
Dr. James Maganello: Spanish River Counseling Center
The church was very blessed to have Dr. James Manganello, a Harvard trained psychologist and family therapist, on staff. First he became a member of the church and then in 1990 he came on staff. He was only on staff for a brief few years before his business drew him back to Boston. However during that time he established the Spanish River Counseling Center in 1991. The counseling center is staffed with licensed therapists and provides counseling from a Christian perspective. The counseling center ministers to the spiritual and emotional needs of people in the congregation and also to many in the community.
Over the years there have been three directors of the Spanish River Counseling center, Walter Terlitsky, Harold Lucas and now Brent Gray. It continues to be a very important place of help for people struggling with emotional problems, family issues, addictions etc.
Suzanne Jeansonne, Criss Bertling & Dana Nicewander: Women's Ministry
Suzanne Jeansonne started to attend SRC during the time that the church was between buildings and was meeting in the high school. Suzanne was from England and had migrated to Boca Raton via marriage to an IBM engineer. She came to faith in Christ through hearing the Bad News and the Good News of the gospel being reiterated in the sermons each week. David Nicholas was in need of a secretary – that was in the days when “personal assistants” were called secretaries! She was hired for that job and after a few years moved on to be the office manager.
It was recognized that the women’s ministry needed to transition from being a handful of small, scattered meetings into an entity that would minister more intentionally to all the women in the church and give them a greater voice. Suzanne took on the role as leader 1991 and grew the women’s ministry into being a significant presence at SRC. When she retired in 2001 Criss Biertling took her place as Director of Women’s Ministry. Criss brought Dana Nicewander on board to help her minister to the women in the church. Criss later took over the leadership of the Support Groups ministry where so many women find others who have/are going through similar difficulties and hard times. Many bonds of love and camaraderie formed in those groups have given hurting women strength to carry on and even to overcome.
Dr. Joe Scharer & Dan Myers: Pastoral Care Ministry
One of the most loved pastors at SRC was Dr. Joe Scharer. Affectionately known to all as “Dr. Joe.” He retired from his post as senior pastor at Plantation Presbyterian Church and came to be the head of pastoral care at SRC. He arrived in 1992 and retired once more in 2007. During those 15 years he became the “face and hands” of Jesus to many people.
If there was illness, death or hard times in your family the person you wanted by your side was Dr. Joe. No matter the time of day or night Dr. Joe would be there to help give solace, strength, and joy in even the most dire circumstance.
In his own words taken from his journal…
“ My part in the ministry has been to visit people when they are sick – to go have prayer with them before surgery and follow up on their situation. I have enjoyed visiting parents with their new babies in the hospital. I visit people in hospice care and people who have lost loved ones to try to help them in their grief. I have conducted funeral services for the deceased.
I spend much time on the telephone following up on situations people have shared with me that were of concern to them. I have had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with people and seeing them come to know Christ as their Savior.”
This was by no means all that Dr. Joe did! Every time there was a church event he would be crisscrossing the crowd greeting people with his beaming smile and warm handshake. He would inquire after them, their family and any concerns in their lives. Often he would pray right there on the spot. He had the ability to make each person feel loved and cared for.
When Dr. Joe retired Dan Myers stepped in to become the ministry of pastoral care. Dan had been at SRC for many years. He had been youth pastor and also the chaplain and Bible teacher at Spanish River Christian School. Dan’s deep roots at SRC and his tender heart for people make him a natural fit for this position.
Key People And Their Ministries: Part 2