A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE CHURCH
In January of 2000, a meeting was held at the request of Sherry Davidson to discuss the possibility of starting a church at World Golf Village. The Rev. Bob May, Sherry Davidson, and Nita Roberts met at the Davidson Realty office.
Most churches are started by either a denomination or a mission group that has the financial backing to underwrite this kind of project. The Village Church however began as a vision and a leap of faith. As Pastor Bob says, “No money, no people, no place, no problem.”
The first worship service was held in the Davidson Realty office on March 12, 2000 with eight people in attendance most of which were the pastors’ family and Dick Gourley. From the very beginning of The Village Church, one member has carried the structure and organization of the worship experience. That is our own Martie May. Yes, she is the pastor’s wife but she is far more than that. She is the Mother of The Village Church! Martie put together the first bulletin on March 12, 2000 and published every bulletin for over 8 years. Martie also created the first church brochure, the first worship Dossal curtain, the first cross, and the first altar parament. In the years to come, when the history of our church is told, we will lift up with great esteem our own Mother of the Church, Martie May.
In late spring, our little church grew by 50% when the Fattizzi family of Vince, Valerie, Dani, and Eric became a vital part of our fellowship. The church had no music and after several failed attempts to use the in-house sound equipment, Martie May led us singing acappella for the next year. A small conference room was used which required us to move the conference table and chairs to seat the first dozen members. Young Eric Fattizzi was given the job of propping the broken leg of the table during the move.
In May 2000, we received our Charter from the State of Florida as a non-profit religious body under the name Golf Village Church Inc. (D.B.A.: The Village Church). The Rev. Robert May, pastor, and six members of the Board of Stewards led the church.
In November of 2000, Cousins Realty offered us the free use of a storefront next to the PGA Tour Stop Golf Shop. We worked very hard with sweat equity to prepare this for a place of worship and we met here using chairs given to The Village Church by Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach. The first Christmas Eve candlelight service was held on the Hall of Fame circle. We felt we were on our way. Then a legal glitch of not leasing to a church was discovered by another tenant. Although technically we were guests, and not renters, we were only given five days to vacate “our little church” and were forced to find a new place to worship. The Renaissance Hotel’s convention center had a lot of empty space and we entered into a very helpful rental agreement with them. We enjoyed the Convention center and our continental breakfasts until we were able to move into our present church on July 7, 2007.
On January 13, 2002, The Village Church had its Charter Member Sunday and
47 members signed the membership charter-we were on our way. Since that time, several of the original charter members have gone on to heaven to prepare a place for us.
By our second anniversary, March of 2002 The Village Church made a big leap of faith and bought the 6.1 acres on Pacetti Road for $290,000. The Peoples First Community Bank became our financial partner with the wonderful backing of a church family.
In the summer of 2003 our church took a giant step forward with the decision of Nita Roberts to make this her church home and build a music program. The church from that time on has grown in so many ways:
By March 2005, our fifth anniversary, The Village Church had grown to over 120 members and had an average attendance of over 90. Although still meeting in The Convention Center on most Sundays, we sometimes had to find alternate space when the Convention Center was full. We learned that the church is indeed the people and not the building, and we learned that this congregation was most flexible as a wandering church with remarkable good spirits.
In September 2005 we began our Wonderful Wednesday dinners. God sent the Coan family to The Village Church and we discovered that Matt Coan is a Chef. He agreed to be the Village Church Chef and the rest is a delicious history as we have watched our Wonderful Wednesdays grow from 26 to as many as 160. The organization and decorations for the dinners was under the skilled leadership of Linda Flahardy
In May 2005 a building committee was established and Larry Flahardy was selected to be the chairperson. The committee began the task of starting our first building to be called “The Family Life Center.” William Morgan was selected to be the architect of record and he collaborated with Bill Ebert to design our 7200 sq. foot structure.
On Sunday, 12 June 2005 a Vision Presentation meeting was held immediately following the worship service. This was a covered dish dinner at the “Village Church House,” followed by the presentation .On Saturday it was raining heavily and the next day, Sunday, was forecasted to be rainy as well. A group of church leaders was setting up for the dinner and the presentation at the church house. Their consensus was to cancel the presentation as most of the activities were scheduled to be outside. Pastor Bob gathered them together (afterwards to be called a “come to Jesus meeting”) to say the dinner would go on as scheduled and that it would not be raining. It was raining as the 10:00 service began but at 11:30 the clouds cleared and a sunny day welcomed the dinner and the Vision meeting. This was just one more indication that God was in charge of this Church.
The summer of 2005 was the beginning of our Building Find campaign under the leadership of Karin Coleman. Over $600,000 was pledged for a three-year period with approximately $450,000 given for our new church prior to the dedication service.
In January of 2006, Tom Bowers became the first staff person added to work with youth. One of his first jobs was implementing a Sunday School and Missions Program for our youth that included our first youth mission trip in July 2006 to New York.
Easter 2006 marked a significant event for our church with the first performance of “I’ve Just Seen Jesus,” an Easter drama written by our music director Nita Roberts-Sullivan. With a cast of 75 and a crowd of over 500 at the Convention Center we began this wonderful annual evangelistic outreach.
The process of selecting a lending institution and a general contractor turned out to be once again directed by the wonderful hand of God. Atlantic Coast Bank was selected to be our construction lender and we signed a construction loan for $1,800,000. With this we were able to pay off the original property loan and sign the contract with C. Young Construction. On May 21, 2006 a ceremonial groundbreaking was held and several faithful laypersons held the shovels that turned the HOLY GROUND.
In July of 2006 we realized that we were $90,000 short of the funds necessary to have on hand to begin construction. Building committee Chairman, Larry Flahardy, led this congregation in one of its finest hours. Immediately following the benediction Larry drew a large smiley face on an easel and told us we were going to raise the $90,000… this week. Hands went up with gifts and pledges. By the end of that service we had raised $75,000. 00, and reached our goal by the end of the week
Construction equipment was delivered to the site and a survey was done to confirm property lines. Then the BIG oops came! The deed line and the survey line were off by 27 feet at the back of the property…everything stopped to solve the correct site and survey line. Eighty days later and at some significant additional expense, the correct line and building drawings were amended.
October 16, 2006 at 7:00 AM the equipment was fired up and we were now beginning to clear the property to build God’s House of worship. The sunrise photo in the Gathering Place was taken by Pastor Bob to mark this historic event in the life of the church.
Construction moved at a wonderful pace and C. Young Construction finished ahead of schedule by two months and under budget. The dedication service for the Family Life Center was held on 7-7-07, truly a Holy number. Pastor Bob was rendered speechless when Building Chairman Larry Flahardy presented a Bronze plaque naming the building Reverend Robert E. May Family Life Center. The statement “build it and they will come” is wonderfully true, as we experienced a growth-blessed fall of 2007.
That growth included the addition of Boy Scout Troop 875 in 2007. Since then, we have added a coed Venture Crew, a Daisy Scout Troop, a Cadette Girl Scout Troop, and a Girl Scout Troop. Three Village Church members have become Eagle Scouts since the Fall of 2011.
The Board of Stewards voted to call a second pastor to help tend our ever-increasing flock. We feel that God has surely guided us as we welcomed The Rev. Alan Liphart to be our Co-Pastor of The Village Church on January 1, 2008.
The children’s Sunday school began to explode in February of 2008 going from 4 children to 28 children in 4 weeks and Sherry McCaulley was added to the staff as Children's Ministry Director in 2010.
Our church also formed a missions committee in 2010 and lends support to nearly two dozen ministries locally, nationally, and globally. In 2012, over $60,000 was spent in helping these organizations spread the Good News of Jesus around the globe.
In the Fall of 2012, a building committee was formed and plans are underway for a significant addition to The Village Church campus.
Our membership is now well over 600 and growing with an average attendance of over 300 between our two services and with over 75 percent of our members in attendance at least once a month. Our children's program has grown from a handful of children to over 50, the youth program reaches over 100 youth per year, the women's and men's ministries are thriving, the church members are engaged in missions and service, and the best is still to come! We look forward to providing more opportunities to encourage spiritual growth, service, and fellowship for all our members as the Holy Spirit leads the way.
And we would love to have you join us!