The New Worship Center And The Passing Of The Torch

by Nori Nicholas

The New Worship Center

Executive Pastor, Ron Tobias, reviewing the blueprints for the new Worship Center.

Executive Pastor, Ron Tobias, reviewing the blueprints for the new Worship Center.

When we first submitted our plans to the city for the construction of a church, the first step was to get approval from the Planning and Zoning Department for land use.  At that time we were uncertain as to the final footprint and usage of the buildings that would be built.  However we did realize that the Northwest corner with frontage on both Yamato Road and St. Andrew Boulevard was the most valuable and visible portion of the property.  Because of this we saved that corner for the future Worship Center.  We planned to build out the property from east to west.  We made this clear in our request for zoning.  Permission was given and construction started with the gymnasium and the elementary school.  More buildings were added moving west on the property.

After moving on the new property on Yamato Road the church went through a significant time of growth.  There was another substantial period of growth after the change in worship style.  There were three services each weekend and it became clear that we needed more space.  It was decided to build the Chapel to house the traditional service and also to serve for weddings, funerals and smaller gatherings.  After the traditional service was moved to the chapel yet another contemporary service was added in the gymnasium each weekend, making a total of four services.

During the time when the Chapel was being built, the City of Boca Raton sent us a letter.  They informed us that they had decided that the city needed more natural green space and they had decided to designate an acre of our property for this.  The city had chosen to take the Northwest corner of out property. 

Newspaper article from 1999.

Newspaper article from 1999.

We protested but to no avail.  Then we reached out to our neighbors in the Le Jardin community.  They joined us in petitioning the city to take their acre of green space from the rear of the property so that it would form a buffer between the church and the homes in Le Jardin.  The city finally agreed and restored to us the use of our property on the northwest corner. We were sad to see that property at the rear go because we had to abandon our plans to build apartments there for seminary interns.

With the restoration of our property we hurried to get approval for the construction of the Worship Center through the planning and zoning department.  We were given approval but only for a two-year window. In 1997 we started the process of designing the building and also of raising funds for the project.

The people of the Spanish River Church family gave generously and joyously and 11 million dollars in three-year pledges was received. Construction started in 1998 and the Worship Center was completed in July 1999.  Within two years after completion of the building the construction debt had been paid.

The Passing Of The Baton

In 1997 David was moved to try once more to provide seminary education on site at Spanish River Church.  An agreement was made with Reformed Theological Seminary of Jacksonville MS.  And in July 1998 Dr. Burt Barunius came on staff to be the Executive Director of the Seminary and also as an Adjunct Professor.  By the beginning of the following year our curriculum was approved and the Master of Divinity program was off and running.  Unfortunately the seminary was short lived.  Reformed Seminary withdrew their umbrella of accreditation and the cost of fulfilling all the requirements to become a separate accredited school was going to run into hundreds of thousands.  Despite the short life of the seminary many people graduated from the program and have gone on do great things for the Kingdom of God.

During the short life of this seminary several qualified people in the area were called upon to teach various courses.  One of those people was Tommy Kiedis.  Tommy was on staff at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach at the time.  Tommy was persuaded to come on staff at SRC full-time.  He became head of the Church Planting program at SRC in 2007. 

In 2008 David Nicholas started to look around for someone to be his successor as senior pastor at SRC.  He was looking for someone who already knew the SRC culture and would continue the ministry of church planting.  It seemed as though Tommy was the natural person for the job.  They worked out a plan for a seamless passing of the baton.  Over the span of one year David Nicholas gradually shrank his role and Tommy Kiedis gradually took over the reins of leadership, this made for a smooth and seamless transition.  In May 2009 it became official and Tommy Kiedis was installed as the new Senior Pastor.

Tommy Kiedis' installation as Senior Pastor.

Tommy Kiedis' installation as Senior Pastor.

This is just a brief sketch of the history of Spanish River Church over the last fifty years.  Many, many names have been omitted simply because there is not room to tell all the wonderful stories of how God has blessed and used this church family as a part of His plan in history. 

Our church has been a special place where thousands of people have heard the Bad News and the Good News of the gospel on a weekly basis.  As a result of this, dead spirits have been made alive to God, hearts have been transformed and lives have taken on eternal significance.

The network of influence that has spread out from Spanish River Church has gone to the farthest corners of the globe.  The power is in the Gospel, and because of Spanish River Church's consistent faithfulness to make the Gospel of “first importance”, the power of God has been released in amazing ways through the decades.