The history of our church began in 1981 when the Holy Spirit infused the minds of a small group of believers with holy zeal to begin a Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Perrine area. Several Seventh-day Adventist believers had relocated to the Perrine area and were desirous of finding a suitable place to worship. This burden rested heavily on the hearts and minds of Brother and Sister Trevor Beckford, Sister Pearl Shelton, Sister Gloria Edwards and Sister Phyllis Rose and they felt the urge to establish a mission in this section of the vineyard.
To begin with, Sister Shelton on behalf of the group contacted Pastor Roy R. Brown, then Pastor of the North Side Seventh-day Adventist Church and Elder Herman Mills the first Elder to spearhead the feasibility of beginning a church. The first meeting to establish a mission was held at the home of Brother and Sister Beckford on August 13, 1981. Thirteen persons were present, including Pastor Brown. Pastor Brown informed us that Bro. Wellesly Edmonds had also approached him with the idea of starting a mission in the Southwest area. We felt sure that the Lord was leading, so we decided to invite Brother Edmonds to the next meeting which was held on September I3th. By then the group numbered thirty.
After several meetings the believers began to search diligently for a place of worship. They encountered frustrating difficulties and numerous setbacks. However, their efforts were finally rewarded when they contacted Rev. James Allen, Pastor of the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, who agreed to allow the Adventist believers to worship at his church. On January 2nd, 1982, a Seventh - day Adventist Mission was established in
Perrine with 82 people in attendance and Pastor Roy Brown as the first pastor. The charter members comprised of Brothers Trevor Beckford, Wellesly Edmonds, Owen Richards, Dan Grant, Michel Gregoire, Cecil Raming and Alton Lewis: Sisters Pearl Shelton, Cecelyn Beckford, Phyllis Rose, Gloria Edwards, Reva Edmonds, Marie Grant, Millicent Taylor, Lydia Maxi, Melissa Woods, Shirley Coley, Edna Lewis, Ivene Dennis, Kathleen Shippey, Dr. Avril Sampson, Asneth Watt, Candita O’Bryan, Barbara Rock, Myrtle Bentley, and Elizabeth Reid never envisioned that years later this tiny group of believers would emerge into the Perrine Seventh-day Adventist Church, a walking, functioning, spiritual giant. "But just as the greatest rivers run from small and distant springs so the greatest deeds that men have done sprung from little things." They dared to dream; convinced that the path in which God was leading them was to render services and bring men and women to God.
Elder Edmonds and the other believers, charged with a deep sense of urgency, quickly embarked upon a quest to purchase property to erect a church. The objective was realized in the fall of 1982, when they obtained a parcel of land located at S.W. I 68th St. between 99th Avenue and 100th Avenue. Shortly after, Pastor Brown received a call to serve as Secretary of the Southeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He was replaced by Pastor Willie Taylor. Under his leadership we were able to burn the mortgage for the land. Meanwhile the Lord continued to bless the hard work of the faithful believers to win souls. Soon others caught a glimpse of the vision of this group and joined us, our membership greatly increased. In May 1985, the Executive Committee of the Southeastern Conference voted to establish the mission among the Sisterhood of churches. In that same year Pastor Taylor was called to serve as Youth Leader of the Southeastern Conference of Seventh -day Adventists.
In August 1985, Elder M. M. Young was appointed to be our new Pastor. Soon after Pastor Young arrived, he along with the members of the church launched its first big drive for funds to aid in the church building project. He embarked on a dynamic stewardship program which raised over $100, 000. He was successful in purchasing the land that was adjacent to the original property, which gave us a total of 31/2 acres. In 1986 the members received word that the Sweet Home Missionary Church could no longer accommodate us. We needed a new place to worship. God impressed the hearts of the Pastor and members of the Palmetto Covenant Church to share their facilities with us. On May 3rd, 1986 this became our home for approximately four years.
In June of 1998 Pastor Young was called to Pastor the North Side Seventh-day Church, he was succeeded by Pastor J. Morel Jr. Pastor Morel maintained the stewardship drive with the same urgency as his predecessor. However, God had other plans which were revealed in a special encounter between Brother Adelai Edwards and the Holy Spirit which led him to the property on which the church is now located. Brother Edwards, a member of the building committee, saw a building on U.S1 and East Datura St. which was to be auctioned within two days. An emergency Board meeting was called to discuss the possibility of purchasing the property. It was decided that because enough funds were not generated to accommodate the plans envisioned for the construction of the church on the land at 168th street, the building located at East Datura Street in Perrine seemed the ideal place for worship. It was purchased on Oct. 30th, 1990. This building was formally used as a vocational school. There was much work to be done. With the barest financial resources, sincere prayer, hard work, sacrifices, sweat and tears we moved forward in faith to renovate the building. We engaged the services of Mr. Wadike, architect and Mr. Tokynbo Abiose, contractor as well as skilled builders in the church.
On August 24th, 1992 Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc on our area and devastated the lives of the Perrine Church family. Through this period of tribulation, God found a way to use our damaged building as a lighthouse in our community. For several months, hundreds of hungry and needy families were fed and clothed from our building. Because of Hurricane Andrew the Perrine church family was forced to leave the damaged Palmetto Covenant Church. Pastor Morel and his elders recommended that we pitch a tent on the parking lot of our facility. We worshiped there for several weeks, often through cold weather and driving rain, until we were able to move into the fellowship hall of our building.
How fond are the memories of those days when the members reflect on the part they played in the renovation of the church? Every member, skilled and unskilled, took part in the renovation process. Much credit can be given to Pastor Morel who was committed to finishing the church even though Hurricane Andrew had ravished his house. He laid aside rebuilding his dwelling and unselfishly toiled day and night, along with Bro. Edmonds and other members, until the church was completed. God rewarded the effort, faith and determination of the believers and on October 1, 1993 the Perrine Seventh Day Adventist Church was dedicated to the honor and glory of God. It was a tremendous thrill and a deep sense of accomplishment that filled the hearts of the 195 members of the Church.
Pastor Morel was transferred to the Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church in West Palm Beach and was replaced by Pastor David L. Peay Sr. He worked aggressively with the youth of the church who comprised more than half the church body. He led out in many programs which were committed to accommodating the zeal and energy of the young people. He engaged them in Bible Bowl in order to have them play in competitive basket ball games. As an outreach to the community, tutorial services were offered through the Education Department. As the Lord continued to bless the church new members were added. The members of departments such as Community Services and Personal Ministry went into the highways and byways inviting men and women to come share in the joys of serving God.
Like his predecessors, Pastor Peay had a burning desire to start an elementary school in the south. He felt it was too strenuous on young children to journey to the only Seventh-day Adventist school located in the North end of the county. With that in mind, he along with Sister Marion Joseph met with representatives of the Southeastern Conference to present the case. Amid doubt and dissention from some, God who knows the beginning from the end, saw it fit to make the impossible possible. Therefore, on August 19, 1996 the Perrine Seventh-day Adventist Church gave birth to the Perrine Seventh -day Adventist Elementary School. Its doors were opened on that first day with Miss Linda Brown as principal, Mrs. Velma Wilson assistant, and 11 students. The school has weathered many storms in its short life time. It has been tried and tested but with God it has overcome every obstacle. The school serves as a beacon of light in this corner of Perrine educating our youth for time and eternity.
Succeeding Pastor Peay was Pastor Milton Sterling Sr. He motivated the church’s family to activate and maintain an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father through fervent prayer. He encouraged the members to have a daily walk with Christ, to develop a more positive Christian experience and focus on the more important things in life. He continued and enlarged the efforts of the Community Services. Every Thursday evening the doors of the church were opened and dozens of people from the community were given food and clothing as well as literature to feed their hungry souls. He placed emphasis on providing a hot lunch for visitors each Sabbath after the Divine Hour. Pastor Sterling, also an advocate of Christian Education, sought ways to find a home for the school as well as encouraged the members to give their children a Christian Education.
Pastor Sterling was called to serve at the Bartow and Winter Haven churches in Central Florida and was succeeded by Pastor Maxwell Berkel in July 2001. Pastor Berkel emphasized evangelism. He knows that the end is near and there is much work to be done, therefore, he along with the Personal Ministries Department, in conjunction with the other departments focused on evangelistic meetings. Through these efforts many souls have been won for the Lord. During his tenure the church membership grew to more than 300. Pastor Berkel realizing the importance of communication in this technological age put the church on the cutting edge of technology as well as got computers in the school. Under his leadership the church acquired two pieces of property adjoining the church; one with an aim to expand the church edifice and the other to temporarily house the school.
In 2006, Pastor Berkel was replaced by Pastor Antwoyn Mells. Pastor Mells, along with his wife Sis. Carlita Mells, continued the evangelistic work through Fall Evangelism, out reach programs, personal ministries and intense involvement of the young people in our church. The community service department delivered food and other spiritual needs to the needy on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as soup kitchen on Sundays. Each Sabbath School class became friendship teams and met regularly to strategize further evangelism in the community. Pastor Mells also in conjunction with the Music Department restructured Sabbath service music and with four functioning choirs. Praise and Worship has blessed many.
In 2012 Pastor Mells ended his tenure at Perrine. He was replaced by Pastor Michael Owusu and his wife Brenda along with their son Michael Jr. Many evangelistic campaigns were held during his time at Perrine bringing in many souls to the knowledge of God. He organizational skills helped him to move the church in a new direction. One of his many focuses was on the beginning of the process of the Mission Driven idea for the church. This concentrated on nurturing and evangelism. He caused department leaders, renamed team leaders, to collaborate in planning strategically. This he believed would lead to mission excellence. Through his guidance a mission statement which reads; “To lead people to the compassionate and loving Savior, Jesus Christ through Christ like living and service as we await his soon return,” was developed which tells the world why Perrine exists. The Tuesday weekly feeding to the needy as well as “meals on wheels” grew under his watch.
Pastor Owusu was truly an advocate for Christian Education. He worked tirelessly for the growth and quality of education at the Perrine School. His presence was continually seen and felt at the school. He was instrumental in encouraging parents to send their children to the school pointing out the spiritual and academic benefits for the child in making that child a whole person.
Pastor Owusu was called to serve as the Secretary and President of Southeastern Conference. Pastor Canute Brown and his wife Faithlyn succeeded him. Pastor Brown is the kind of leader whose deepest desires is to see the church faithfully pursuing God’s purposes. He is an effective pastor who communicates well with his people by making house calls, demonstrates strong listening skills and spends time in the Word each week to teach effectively and consistently. One of his greatest attributes is his humility. He not only asks for something to be done but he leads by example. He tempers his leadership with grace.
Like his predecessor, Pastor Brown has done much for the school, especially the Pre-school. He was instrumental in renovating and expanding the play area, obtain new supplies for the pre-school, giving it a new look. During his tenure many souls were brought to the kingdom through evangelism.
At Perrine there are several needs that we seek to meet for our young people. One of the strategies developed to partially meet these needs was the Perrine Adoptee Ministry (PAM). It is a ministry that develops a spiritual faith relationship between young people and adults. Realizing that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow there are several other programs centered on them. Students twelve years of age through college age are instructed in S.A.T. strategies in preparation for that test. This is a community outreach which is extended to all students whether in private or public schools.
An outreach provided annually is the Vacation Bible School (VBS). This service focuses on students ages 0-16. Also, under the direction of Velma Wilson, the youth and young adults meet every Tuesday evening in their “No Pressure” sessions to discuss various Biblical, social and personal topics. This is another community program where all youth high school to 35 years of age are welcome.
Additionally, the Perrine Allstar Pathfinder Club, which was established in 1986 shortly after the establishment of the church, is another avenue in which the youth are trained in leadership roles as well as given opportunities to grow spiritually, mentally, socially, and physically. The early leaders were Sisters Susie Adderley, Lydia Maxi, Carmen Walsh-Almanzar, Lorraine Lezama and Nonan Lezama. In 1991 the club competed in two District Five International week-end activities and came away with the coveted trophy for drilling. In 1993, despite the small membership after Hurricane Andrew, they gained the trophy for overall performance. In 1998 under the leadership of Brian Kerr the club participated in the Tri-Conference Camporee at Camp Kulaqua, High Springs, Florida. They competed in the Drill Team competition and placed second. The following year, 1999 they again went on to compete in the Drill Team competition at the International Camporee in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin and placed fourth in the Competition, first in the Southeastern Conference, and second in the North American Division. In 2004, with Ainsworth Alexander as the leader, the Drill Team placed first in Advance Precision Drilling, first in Fancy Freestyle Drilling, and second in Basic Precision Drilling. Currently, under the leadership of Velma Wilson, the club continues to grow and currently has a registered membership of 20.
As a church, we know there is much more to be done. The Community Service members along with the Women’s Ministries Department and Health Departments have worked diligently over the years to reach men and women by conducting Health Fairs, going into shelters to cloth and feed those who are hungry and suffering but there are many still that have not been reached. Our desire is to heed the command to Go and tell others about the soon coming of Christ.
Formidably though the task ahead of us may appear, it is not beyond us, because the same fervent spirit that burned within the breasts of our earlier brethren is still present in our hearts today, The power of the Holy Spirit with which they were endowed is still available to us today and we know that He will continue to lead. Hither to hath the Lord led us.