The following story was shared by Pr. Don Erickson, Rock of Ages, Wildwood. This story is in a series of stories about congregations impacting their communities.
While we did not wander in the desert for 40 years it, at times, felt like that as the congregation of Rock of Ages in Wildwood waited to realize the long-held dream of its own worship facility. The dream began with a small group in 2006 who began with worship being held in a funeral home. It was through a partnership with 1st Presbyterian Church of Wildwood that the 140 year-old original 1st Presbyterian building was renovated and made ready for Rock of Ages to begin worship later that year. The dream met many obstacles over the next 7 years, and seemed very distant as a pastoral vacancy left the congregation in doubt. Through the disappointment of three pastoral call rejections, it wasn’t until early in 2014 that Pastor Don Erickson began serving as interim–for an contracted period of 4 months. As yet another call process began, the congregation was determined to call Pastor Erickson out of retirement with Synod blessing. Pastor Erickson accepted the call in December of 2015.
As the congregation began to grow, the dream continued to take shape, and in 2016 planning began for the new worship center to be built on an 8-acre site in Wildwood. In a short 6 months, the congregation paid off the mortgage on the site and moved into initial planning. As a contractor developed building plans and the congregation took on a capital campaign, worship attendance grew to over 100 people in the small church that had seating for about 80. Through partnership with the Florida-Bahamas Synod, its MissionPartners100 Fund, and the Mission Investment Fund (the finance arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), a mortgage was granted and groundbreaking was scheduled. The first shovel was turned in October, 2018 with a planned completion of summer 2019. The congregation moved into the nearly 9000 sq ft location on August 18th with the first worship service occurring on August 25th for a capacity attendance of over 180 people. The formal dedication of the worship center is scheduled for Sunday, October 6th at 10:30 AM with Bishop Suarez presiding and preaching. Everyone is invited to attend this historic occasion at the new facility located at 4957 E. CR 462 in Wildwood.
The story and journey of Rock of Ages is a wonderful testimony to the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit working through a small but determined congregation that never gave up…who trusted completely in God’s call to be the church. We are excited for the expanded mission possibilities that our new worship center affords. Thanks be to God!