Between mid-January and July of 2010, we were blessed by many pastors within and outside the conference as they acted as fill-ins; the Rev. Dean Hill (NY Conf. ret.) filled in for over a month, and the Rev. Dean Whittern (ret.) for seven weeks as well as Reverends Troy Ray, Wayne Wiatt, and our Youth Director Mike Aitcheson. On July 1, 2010, Rev. Jimmy Jones was appointed pastor. A highlight of his time with us was a mission trip to Costa Rica where he and eight of our members worked at a mission for a week.
David Charlton and family became our parsonage family in January 2012, beginning a period of more community involvement for the church. It was David who opened Fellowship Hall for the Picnic Project to serve meals when the city no longer allowed them to do so in the park. He began the tradition of our pastors connecting with the guests at the meals and inviting them to become a part of us. This partnership remains steadfast still
Mabel Thomas, the church’s only Denman Award Recipient, passed away in February and left the church $100,000.00 to be used for missions, which were dear to her. It was decided by the Mission Committee that only the interest would be withdrawn and used each year, leaving the principal intact. There have been years when the investments were down that we were unable to withdraw funds, but most years missions have benefitted from this wonderful gift.
Even though the church had a sizable portfolio, our weekly income was not meeting our weekly expenses. The child care continued to operate in the red and its Board decided to close in December 2012.
It was determined that a more casual evening service was needed. It was aimed at those who were unable or uncomfortable attending the morning service but desired worship. CAYA (Come As You Are) service began at 5:30 PM on August 18, 2013, followed by a light meal. We gave away chili dogs and offered prayer at a booth during the August “Alive After Five” event in downtown Sanford to promote the new service.
In December of 2013, a lease with 4C (Coordinated Community Child Care) for their Head Start program was signed for use of the downstairs classrooms of Fellowship Hall, with classes to begin in February 2014. This agreement generated some much-needed monthly income for the church.
For many months a group of ladies worked diligently dividing our church into neighborhood groups. By November 2014, leaders had been named and encouraged to meet with their group., thus beginning a season of small group, location-based discipleship. Many groups met, partied, studied, and /or generally kept up with each other as we sought to grow our lives and our faith in community.
Happening in Sanford
When referencing this period of time in Sanford’s history, it would be impossible not to talk about the killing of Trayvon Martin and the impact that this event had on our community, our nation, and our world. On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch coordinator while walking home from a convenience store. The fallout from this killing and the subsequent acquittal of the suspect led to widespread demonstrations and brought many conversations about race into the national spotlight. A prayer vigil and rally was held at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church on March 14, and on March 26, a public hearing by the City Commission began with a march from the steps of our church to the Sanford Civic Center.¹
In 2013, A statewide commemoration called Viva Florida commenced celebrating Florida’s people, places, and events dating back to Juan Ponce de León’s arrival to La Florida in 1513. Events in our area included a display of the Galleon, a replica of the 16th-century ships that the Spanish explorers used when they discovered Florida that was docked in Port Canaveral.²
Happening in the World
2010– A 7.0-magnitude earthquake occurs in Haiti, devastating the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. With a confirmed death toll over 316,000, it is the tenth deadliest on record.
2011- Space Shuttle Atlantis lands successfully at Kennedy Space Center after completing STS-135, concluding NASA’s Space Shuttle program.
2012- A pastel version of The Scream, by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, sells for US$120 million in a New York City auction, setting a new world record for an auctioned work of art
2013- Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is elected the 266th pope, whereupon he takes the name Francis and becomes the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
2014- The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center in New York City opens.
2015- SpaceX lands an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, the first reusable rocket to successfully enter orbital space and return.