Guest speakers, from left, Gordon Ollsen, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Kahaian, the Rev. William Davis, Dr. Bernardo Bilang, Rhonda Alvarez, Mayor Leslie Waters and Pastor Robert Wierenga at the Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church’s Golden Jubilee celebration.
SEMINOLE – Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church held its Golden Jubilee Jan. 9, celebrating 50 years of ministry in the Seminole area.
Guest speakers at the event included Mayor Leslie Waters and Rev. Dr. Nancy Kahaian, head official for the 71 churches in the Presbytery of Tampa Bay. After the special service, there was a display of historical items in Smead Hall.
The church began as John Knox Presbyterian Church of Seminole on Sunday, Jan. 19, 1964. Services were held at 8:30 a.m. at the Seminole Elementary School under the pastorate of the Rev. Joseph W. Conyers Jr.
Six months later, on July 20, 1964, the congregation held its first service in the new building at 11250 86th Ave. N. The Presbytery had purchased the five-acre site on the corner of 86th Avenue and 113th Street in 1961 and held the groundbreaking for this building, a fellowship hall to be temporarily used as the church sanctuary, on April 6, 1964.
On May 16, 1965, the congregation, with 75 members, was formally organized and chose the name Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Bruce Smead was named pastor. He served this congregation for 22 years, from 1965 until he retired in April 1987.
The building programs continued, with the addition of the four big classrooms and some storage areas, as well as two small rectangular buildings. One of these buildings is now the choir room and adjoining library. The other contains the main office, including the pastor’s study, the business office and the workroom.
In 1975, the congregation decided to begin the fundraising and planning of the sanctuary, narthex and sacristy. On July 4, 1976, Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church combined the dedication of the church’s sanctuary with the celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. Congressman C.W. Bill Young was the guest speaker at the event.
When Rev. Smead retired in 1986, Rev. William Davis was called to serve at LSPC in 1988. Rev. Davis and his family came from Dubuque, Iowa, and were affiliated with the church until 2003. During this time, in 1991, Rev. Durl Odom brought his congregation from Kirk of the Lake Presbyterian Church (Bardmoor area) to join congregations, and served as assistant pastor for one year.
After 15 years, Rev. Davis retired from ministry at LSPC in 2003. In the winter of 2005, Rev. Robert Wierenga accepted the offer to serve as the pastor of LSPC. His installation was held Sept. 25, 2005. Prior to this, his family had spent 10 years as missionaries, first in Costa Rica, then in Venezuela. He holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary and hails from Michigan.