In recent weeks it was not surprising to hear the sounds of drilling, hammering and sawing coming from the church building at 505 Cinnamon Drive.
The sign in front of the structure said it all: “Future Home of Calvary Chapel Surfside.”
Calvary’s pastor, John Forsythe, and congregation members have spent the last few weeks renovating the property in preparation for the church’s move.
They had their first worship service at the new location on July 1.
“We’re really excited about this being our home for the next several years and are not sparing any expense,” Forsythe said recently during a brief break from working to extend the main stage in the church sanctuary.
Workers have already moved the church pews in order to pull up the old carpet. They repainted the sanctuary and adjoining fellowship hall, and framed out two new classrooms.
“Everybody has been pitching in to help with renovations; it’s fun when church family works together,” he said.
Family and fellowship are important facets of Calvary Chapel Surfside, second only to glorifying the Gospel of Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and knowing His Word.
The church began in September 2008.
The previous year, Forsythe was on staff with Calvary Chapel Melbourne when he felt a calling to minister to those living on the beachside. After much prayer with his wife, Opal, he was led to start an independent surfside church, which is also affiliated with the national Calvary Chapel church movement.
The congregation initially met at DeLaura Middle School in Satellite Beach.
Since the summer of 2009, the congregation has occupied space in a small strip mall at 950 Pine Tree Drive in Indian Harbour Beach, across the street from the Lowe’s store on Highway A1A.
“The place was about 50 to 60 years old, and a bit rundown, but we made it beautiful,” Forsythe said.
This included stringing lights on the ceiling above the front stage in the sanctuary along with a wooden wall facade with a large cross in the center.
Forsythe said the strip mall’s owners knew they eventually wanted to demolish the building and did not make repairs. Demolition is now set for August.
“Last year, they tore down the other half of the strip center when part of the roof blew off during Hurricane Irma,” he said. “Fortunately, our roof stayed on, but we had a whole lot of ceiling tiles get soaked and saturated. There also was some water damage.”
That’s why he attributes the church’s move to divine intervention.
“The move was very much necessary. We’d been looking for about a year when we found this church building. God’s timing prevented us from going through another hurricane season in that location,” Forsythe said.
The sanctuary in the new location was built in 1961, with the fellowship hall added in 1996. Calvary Chapel Surfside is leasing the property from the Florida District of the Wesleyan Church.
The property is perfect for the congregation of 50-60 families that regularly attend Calvary Chapel Surfside, which averages between 120-150 attendees each Sunday. While the majority of members are beachside residents, some drive from as far as Port St. John, Cape Canaveral and Port Malabar.
In addition to the lease, Forsythe said the church also purchased the residential lot next door to build a new wing for a children’s ministry.
“We will have more room in here for fellowship activities, potluck dinners, and wedding receptions,” he said.
The congregation also plans to go beyond church walls to volunteer and contribute to the surrounding community. “We couldn’t have asked for a better location. Out our front door is the Satellite Police Department, and out our back door is Surfside Elementary,” Forsythe said.
For more information on Calvary Chapel Surfside, log on to www.calvarysurfside.org or call 321-821-0706.
Article by: Rolanda Hatcher-Gallop, correspondent