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our story long version

Love God. Love People. Push Back Darkness.

The first 50 plus years have been a testimony to placing your trust in God that He will make your path clear and with unwavering purpose. Our legacy of loving the community of Dunedin and New Port Richey has been a strong one. As followers of Jesus, we have been faithful in His calling and the blessings of which He has given this church through the years. We are excited to continue on the journey and we hope you'll join us as we unify our focus of loving God, loving people, and pushing back darkness.

FROM THE BEGINNING

Dwight D. Eisenhower was in his second term as President of the United States when St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was formed. Arthur Freed's Gigi won the Oscar for Best Motion Picture that same year.

Late in 1957, Dr. Thomas P. Johnston, who was the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin had a vision to start a new church. A survey of the area and the rapid population growth in the county made North Dunedin the logical direction in which to move. A generous gift of five acres of land on Michigan Boulevard gave confirmation to the decision. With the full backing of the Session and membership of First Church and the encouragement of the Westminster Presbytery, (the predecessor to the current Presbytery of Tampa Bay), the birth of the church that would become St. Andrews was inevitable.

First Worship Service in 1958

Westminster Presbytery's Home Mission Committee called the Rev. Mr. Jack W. Ewart to become the organizing pastor. The first worship service was held on January 26, 1958, in the dining room of the H. P. Hood orange juice plant with 130 people in attendance. A name was chosen for this new venture in February of 1958. The name St. Andrews was chosen because it fit the location on the Gulf of Mexico and the fact that Andrew was a fisherman. It would later come to signify that Andrew is also remembered as the great evangelist. St. Andrews did not officially become a church, however, until March 2, 1958, when a commission from Westminster Presbytery constituted the 109 signers of the charter requesting a church. The first act of this fledgling church was to extend a call to ministry to Jack Ewart. His installation by Presbytery took place immediately and we were now a congregation with a pastor! The congregation next moved to elect four men who constituted the first Session. It was a busy beginning!

Quick Growth

Two weeks later, St. Andrews elected its first deacons, began a church school that met in the Boy Scout Hut across the street from the Hood Plant, started Men of the Church and Women of the Church groups, and organized its youth group. The church grew and prospered and built itself a house of worship and activity on the five acres on Michigan Boulevard. The congregation was determined not to raise just another church building but to make a bold, decisive statement about their faith. They hired Victor Lundy, a nationally known architect from Sarasota to draw plans for a church building that would embody their vision and Lundy's genius. His use of line and material envisioned a ship, a symbol of Christian tradition and one appropriate for a church bearing the name St. Andrews.

New Buildings

The small congregation in 1959-60 built the first stage of this master plan, a multi-purpose Kirk Hall and two adjoining hexagonal buildings at a cost of $112,716. They were first used on Easter Sunday in 1960. The result was unique and so beautiful that it was featured in Architectural Record and appeared in Time magazine. In 1963, with the congregation swelling to 345, three more hexagonal pods were added.
Jack Ewart served the congregation for almost eight years. During that time the church grew in membership to 409. He was especially effective in helping the community of Dunedin to accept racial integration of the public schools. He left St. Andrews in 1966 to organize what became Hope Presbyterian Church in Clearwater.

Leadership Transitions

During the period between pastorates, the Session asked the Rev. David Bronstein, a Presbyterian minister of the PCUSA, to be interim pastor. Westminster Presbytery approved the appointment until November 1966, a longer term than is usual for interim pastors. Mr. Bronstein was a powerful speaker and able leader and possessed such a strong personality that many in the congregation did not wish the pulpit nominating committee to find anyone else. But in November, Presbytery reaffirmed its wishes that this interim pastorate be just what the name implied and what the church constitution states. Mr. Bronstein's services were terminated, and in the ensuing difficulties about 100 of the congregation left St. Andrews to help Mr. Bronstein organize a new independent church. It was a time of division and sadness.

In June 1967 the name of the Rev. William P. Anderson, Jr. was placed before the congregation, and he was given a unanimous call to become the second pastor of St. Andrews. Bill Anderson helped to heal wounds and mend that which was broken. With his calm and steady hand on the wheel, St. Andrews began to grow and move forward in every area of service. The Rev. Dr. Daniel McGeachy was called in 1969 as minister of visitation. One of the distinctive emphases in the life of St. Andrews during that period was the place of music in worship. From the early days in the Hood Plant, the congregation had been filled with those who loved to sing and could sing. Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin Day donated three octaves of handbells in memory of their daughters. Four choirs and three bell choirs attested to the importance and emphasis on music at the church. In 1971, the purchase of a custom-designed Seville organ was approved, and chimes were added later.

With the growth in membership, attendance, budget and activities, the church called the Rev. David E. Mullen as the first associate pastor in 1971. Mr. Mullen's ministry to the youth and his expertise in human relations and counseling contributed to the strengthening and broadening of the program at St. Andrews. He left in 1973 to continue graduate study in the field of counseling. By 1974, when Bill Anderson left to organize a new church, membership at St. Andrews had surpassed the 500 mark.

A search committee was formed in March 1974, and the Rev. Dr. Walter B. Passiglia served as interim pastor for six months. In September 1974 the congregation extended a unanimous call to the Rev. Joseph P. Holder to become the third pastor of St. Andrews. Shortly after Mr. Holder began his ministry at the church, Dr. Passiglia was named minister of visitation. Increased growth in 1976 led the Session to strengthen the staff by employing a student minister, Mrs. Brenda Hoffmeyer, from Columbia Theological Seminary, to help in Christian education.

Growing Needs

In addition to staff, facilities were growing. In 1976 a two-phase building expansion was begun. The capacity of Kirk Hall was expanded by 125 seats by enclosing the porch. In 1977 a four-pod Christian education complex was constructed in response to record-breaking attendance in the church school program. In 1978, Neva Delgado was called as director of Christian education. A meditation garden was begun.

In 1980 the Rev. William Gracey was called as associate pastor. In 1982 he initiated the Stephen Ministry program to provide assistance to those home-bound, incapacitated or experiencing emotional or mental difficulties. That ministry has remained active and vital to the present day.

In October 1982, the congregation authorized the building committee, chaired by Baldwin Day, to contract with an architect to generate drawings of a master plan for utilization of the church property. In February 1983 at the first congregational meeting after the unification of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian churches into the PCUSA, the building committee  presented plans for a new sanctuary to house 725 persons at one seating and to convert Kirk Hall to the use for which it was originally designed as a fellowship and activity hall. The congregation confirmed the plan and passed the motion to proceed, which included the 725-seat sanctuary with space for choir office and practice rooms, two smaller pods for school and administrative use, parking facilities, paved roads and sidewalks.

During this same period, Jack and Elsie Arnall gave the church $50,000 seed money toward the purchase of a pipe organ. A committee was convened in March 1984 to investigate cost, design and purchase. The committee worked closely with the building committee to integrate the proposed organ into the new sanctuary. The committee contracted with M. P. Moeller, Inc. for a three-manual, 33-rank pipe organ.  

Jubilee

In 1983, St. Andrews celebrated its 25th anniversary with a three-month jubilee, which included a model of the proposed sanctuary. In 1984, Vickie Barnes and Anne Hagler were called as co-directors of Christian education. In 1985 Julia Wiley became director of Christian education.

St. Andrews membership had passed the 1,000 mark with a music program that embraced five choirs and a benevolent outreach that included Habitat for Humanity, the food pantry, the clothes closet, and other local concerns when the first service with its new pipe organ was held in the new sanctuary on Easter Day 1986. The new pipe organ, played by Beth Hunter, was dedicated on April 20th, 1986. 

Featured in the new sanctuary were beautiful and symbolic stained glass windows. The most prominent window above the chancel depicts Andrew bringing the lad with the loaves and fishes to Jesus on the day Our Lord fed the five thousand. In its upper right quadrant is the cross of St. Andrew. The smaller windows include the following symbols: the pelican, who will feed its young its own blood to save them, just as Christ gave his life to save ours; the shell and water which symbolize the baptism of Our Lord; the anchor and fish, symbols of hope and steadfastness; the peacock, whose molting feathers are replaced by more beautiful ones, just as we die to ourselves for Christ to renew our lives; the ark and rainbow, symbol of the Church and God's promise; the sand dollar, whose exterior bears five indentations which represent the five wounds of Christ in death and inside are little white, dove-shaped pieces which are released when the shell is broken, symbolizing resurrection; the palm branch, a sign of triumphant rejoicing; a ship, a symbol of the church; a descending dove, representing the Holy Spirit; and the butterfly, a symbol of the resurrection. A small hand-carved dove hung above the baptismal font to signify the Holy Spirit.

In January 1988 a fund was established to raise money for an elevator to access the sanctuary, and in February the prayer room was donated by Joe Bugelli in memory of his wife Nancy. A bus garage was built in September 1988, courtesy of Bill Compton.When Joe Holder retired in 1989, membership had doubled, the physical plant had tripled in size, and giving had quadrupled. Awareness of mission and outreach had grown, and St. Andrews had sent members to begin Northwood Presbyterian Church and Palm Harbor Presbyterian Church. The music ministry had expanded--at one time the Youth Choir numbered almost 50--and was known throughout the area. Upper Pinellas was growing and developing, and St. Andrews reached out to those moving into the area with God's love. As Joe's wife Martha recalls, "Joe Holder's ministry was much more than statistics. No history is complete without including his deep personal faith in God, his sense of humor and joy of life. A natural people person, Joe was a gifted pastor who loved engaging with his congregation.  He visited in homes not just where there was need, but in order to know the people better. This people contact plus his love of history and his insight into the human condition made for thought-provoking sermons." In recognition of his contributions, Mr. Holder was named pastor emeritus.

From Guttenberg to Google

Upon Mr. Holder's retirement, in October 1989, the Rev. Robert Hultz was called as interim pastor.
The Rev. Vern Dodd was called on July 15, 1990 as the fourth pastor of St. Andrews. Writing about his tenure in Dunedin, Mr. Dodd said, "I was their pastor on the hinge of history between long time, retired pastor, Rev. Joe Holder, and long term successor Rev. Dr. John Fullerton. One represented the past 500-years of Christian worship style, and the other what the next 500 years will become. I was the hinge on a door that swung from the Guttenberg Generations to the Google Generations. Having grown up a product of the Guttenberg Generations, I was book-oriented.  However, while at St. Andrews, I had to learn the language of the Google Generations."

Among the challenging waters of change Vern Dodd had to navigate were the move from typewriters to computers, the transition from analog to digital, the addition of a new worship service that was multi-sensory and multi-media, greater utilization of the worship arts with artful displays, drama, dance, handbells, choirs, and expansion of the tech-booth to include a computer station to drive the graphic arts on the large screen. The Soul Cafe in the narthex was established as a connecting place before and after worship, serving coffee and baked goods.

In 1991, the Rev. Ian Stake became associate pastor, followed by the Rev. Cheryl Montgomery as interim associate pastor in 1993. The Rev. Steve Mock was called as associate pastor in March 1995. Steve Mock also served as director of Christian education and youth director until Carol White joined the staff in July of 1995 as director of Christian education and Cathy Buck became director of youth in 1996. In October 1996, Carol White established the first Pumpkin Patch that has raised funds and community awareness for the past twenty years.

With the assistance of Steve Mock and Carol White, Vern Dodd oversaw the launch of an interactive children's worship in the remodeled Kirk Hall as well as the addition of an "away" service of contemporary worship in Kirk Hall. Mr. Dodd based his ministry on the Purpose Driven Model, a clear-cut philosophy of biblical ministry that drove changes not only in worship and fellowship but in discipleship.

A challenge faced by Mr. Dodd when he arrived in 1990 was the debt resulting from the building of the new sanctuary. A debt retirement program, proposed by Chuck Carter, was approved and Chuck was appointed head of a committee to tackle this problem. By July 16, 1995, the building debt had been paid off, and the church celebrated with a mortgage shredding ceremony.

A School, an Organ, and More

The church nursery was renovated in 1996. In December 1997, the Apple Seeds Christian School, a major effort of Jim Winters, was started. April 20, 1998, Mary Lou Radovanic was named director and has held that post to the present day. May 24, 1998, an open house celebrated the opening of St. Andrews Meditation Garden. On April 10, 1999, construction of the elevator for the sanctuary was completed. Also in 1999, the Moeller pipe organ was upgraded, expanding the instrument to 37 ranks with 2238 pipes. It was dedicated on Easter Sunday 2000, the fourteenth anniversary of the first service in the new sanctuary, and played by Rita Rostron. In 2001 Warren and Doris McGahey donated two octaves of chimes. In February 2001, Baldwin and Eileen Day made a generous gift which was placed toward funding for the renovation of Kirk Hall. The large dining room in Kirk Hall, which had been used for congregational dinners, was divided into a chapel, a youth room, and several classrooms. Construction began in January 2002 and was completed in June.

After thirteen and a half years of service, Vern Dodd resigned to fill a pulpit in North Carolina, effective June 30, 2003. The Rev. Mike DeArruda was called as interim pastor, beginning his work on August 18, 2003.
On July 14, 2004, the Rev. John H. Fullerton was called as senior pastor. One of Pastor John's first tasks was to rebuild the focus of the church, which had been seriously distracted by "worship wars," a tension between traditional and contemporary worship styles. Members, funds, energy and focus had been lost, and he decided to reset the focus on mission. St. Andrews has been a church on mission ever since, not only writing checks for mission but now sending out mission teams as well.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

St. Andrews started their search for a global mission opportunity in 2006. The thinking was: "When we send teams out and have an experience of mission and they return and tell us about what they experienced, the whole church desires to do more mission all year, including local missions." They began with a focus on Honduras. Pastor John had sent many teams there in his previous churches and had traveled on many of the teams. Debi Fiegle was interested in leading in this area and with Nancy Sterling worked with Honduras Outreach, Inc., based in Atlanta. In 2008, partnering with Grace Presbyterian Church in Virginia and under the auspices of HOI, St. Andrews sent their first mission team, composed of nine people from St. Andrews and 13 from Grace, to the village of El Querbrachal. In 2009, a team visited San Buenaventura, and in 2010 and 2011 the village of La Balsa. By 2012, the team to El Jobo had grown to 17 with 10 St. Andrews members. The team was assigned the village of El Mico, which they visited for the next four years and in 2016 built a new school. During their time in El Mico. they started the water filter project, which has grown exponentially. Thanks to the persistence of Jane Dowdy, many villages in Honduras and Nicaragua have clean water. As of this writing, a total of 140 people have represented St. Andrews in witness and service as missionaries to Honduras over the past nine years, and over 2,500 Hondurans have directly benefited. Even more have benefited from the water filter project.

In addition to Honduras, St. Andrews has had a mission presence in the Zona Maya area of the Yucatan since 2013. The teams, led by Dave Phillips and Richard Lehmann, work closely with Pastor Alfredo Perera of Monte de los Olivos church in the city of Felipe Carillo Puerte to encourage believers and proclaim the Gospel in the city and in villages in the surrounding areas.  They also lead singing, give testimonies, sponsor children's activities, and distribute clothing and medical supplies.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast in 2005, St. Andrews youth responded by sending a mission team to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Youth teams also served to help rebuild after tornadoes struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Moore, Oklahoma. Adult teams did disaster relief work in Deland, Florida and Joplin, Missouri after tornadoes hit there.

In addition to disaster relief, the youth of St. Andrews became involved in other mission trips to serve those in need. Van loads of youth would travel to youth base camps from which teams would go out and serve. Our youth have reached out in Washington, D.C.; Copper Hill, Tennessee; San Jose, Costa Rica; San Francisco, California; Waumama, Florida; and Morganton, Georgia.       

Women of the Church

From the inception of St. Andrews, the women of the congregation, first as Women of the Church, and now as Presbyterian Women, have been actively involved in Bible study, spiritual growth, fellowship and mission work. Monthly circles meet, numbering at one time eight or ten. Edith (Mrs. William) Dicus was the first president of Women of the Church. There have been 28 presidents, the last of whom is Patty Ingman, who has served since 2002. Over the years, PW have supported Religious Community Services, Thornwell Home and School for Children, Beth El Farmworkers Ministry, Sheriff's Youth Ranch, Margaret Day Scholarship Fund (established to provide leadership training to any Presbyterian woman and named in honor of St. Andrews first female elder), and Eckerd College, among many others. As an example of their big hearts and busy hands, in 2015 St. Andrews PW made and donated almost 600 sandwiches to the cold night shelter at Peace Memorial; gave 109 dresses, 34 crop tops, and 55 pairs of shorts, made by the Dorcas Sewing Circle, to Haiti With Love; donated four layettes for the Zona Maya mission team and 12 layettes, four costumes, and 31 school bags, all made by PW, to the Honduras mission team. That same year PW women knitted over 80 shawls and lap robes for Lakeside Oaks Care Center as Christmas gifts and two dozen lap robes for area VA hospitals. A dozen "happy pillowcases" were created for children receiving cancer treatment at All Children's Hospital. Kimberly House was the recipient of 80 sweaters, caps and outfits, thanks to one member, who has made and donated over 400 such items over the years. Also in 2015, PW, in their annual sponsorship of the Heifer International Christmas card project, raised over $800 to purchase livestock for needy families. These missions and others of the Presbyterian Women are ongoing.
In January 2007 the Rev. Norman Hatter was called and served as pastor for congregational care until mid-March 2010.  

Celebrating Fifty Years

In 2008-2009, after a great 50th Anniversary of St. Andrews celebration, the congregation revitalized a capital improvement program, begun in 2005, renaming that program the Joshua Commission and concentrating on a dozen key items. As a practical matter, repaving of the parking lot was tackled immediately; then creating a master plan to envision what the future campus would look like was given priority. The second project was the reorganization of the chancel area in the worship center, redesigning the chancel area to meet the needs of all the groups that use it. This included centering the pulpit, creating a space for the worship band, extending the chancel area seven feet, and providing new furnishings, plants, and paraments. Other projects included upgrading the worship center audio and video systems, upgrading its lighting, refurbishing the narthex, new signage, upgrading the audio and video systems in Kirk Hall, and re-leathering the pipe organ. The gardens of St. Andrews have also received special attention during John Fullerton's pastorate. A granite Celtic cross with matching standards, a gift from Curlew Memorial Gardens, was installed in the Meditation Garden. A donation from Ken and Lil Carson, in memory of Ken's daughter Kate, established the Hope Garden in 2012 with its patio and pergola to the right of the entrance to the worship center. A group of dedicated volunteers, led by Cal Pierson, beautified the grounds in other areas, including the Olive Garden in front of the patio room, landscaping in front of Kirk Hall, around the signs out front, at the main doorway to the church office, in the planter in front of Apple Seeds (a Boy Scout project), and alongside the Car Care Ministry building.

The Car Care Ministry, begun in 2012 as an outgrowth of a group working to restore Pastor John's 1966 Mustang, converted the bus garage to a mechanic shop. This ministry provides repairs and vehicles for people in need. Another outreach is the classic car show, called "Shine and Show Under the Oaks," an event that has featured as many as 69 classic automobiles and draws hundreds of people onto our campus each year. Also drawing in the community was the hosting of Denver and the Mile High Orchestra concerts in 2014 and 2016. This band has traveled the world, playing at churches, conferences and festivals. They have performed at two Olympic Games and were the house band at the 2005 Gospel Music Association Music Awards. In 2015 St. Andrews launched Caring Hearts and Hands, a ministry to the deaf community. Heading this effort are Carrie Moore, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, and her husband Charles, who teaches ASL. Carrie interprets in the first service, and the word is slowly getting out that the deaf who want to worship can do so here.

The Rev. Dr. Laurent Ramambason joined St. Andrews in January 2011 as pastor for congregational care. Pastor Laurent and his wife Diamondra came to this country after a military coup in their home country of Madagascar. Pastor Laurent, a prolific writer and frequently published scholar, was called "the third world's leading theologian" by a former moderator of our denomination. In addition to providing care and guidance to the congregation of St. Andrews, Pastor Laurent travels frequently to Madagascar where he still functions as dean of the faculty of theology and chair of the founding committee of the Reformed University of Madagascar.

In February 2012, the Rev. Joy Laughridge, was called to be part-time pastor for outreach and ministry to work with mission ministry leaders and leaders of the Matthew and Stephen ministries. She also began taking groups to serve lunch at the Homeless Emergency Project once a month, coordinated a group that helped with the Religious Community Services Postal Service food drive, and worked with church leaders to implement an ongoing food drive called Twelve Baskets. Initially the food collected each week went to RCS, but now it goes to the recently established Dunedin Cares local food bank. Pastor Joy led the church to become involved in a unique ministry to women working in the adult entertainment industry.  In partnership with Christa Hernandez, founder of Loving You Where You're At, St. Andrews has been sending women on missions of outreach to clubs to bear the message that the women who work there are loved, valued, and purposed. In January 2016 Pastor Joy's position was expanded to full-time and the focus of her ministry shifted to more emphasis on small group ministries, including the Alpha Course, designed to give spiritual seekers a safe place to explore the basics of Christianity and to build community with others.St. Andrews leaders are also at work in the larger church. After Pastor John received his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2010, Pastor Laurent advised him, "You did not get your doctorate only for St. Andrews. You are a doctor of the church. Use it to serve the whole Church." So Pastor John taught pastors in training in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, at the seminary where Pastor Laurent was dean of students. Elder Kelly King traveled with Pastor John to teach undergraduates at the Reformed University of Madagascar. The Reverend Mr. James Kim, pastor from Lakewood, Washington, invited Pastor John to be on his teaching teams in 2015 and 2016 at the Moscow Presbyterian Theological Academy in Moscow, Russia, a seminary founded by Koreans to train Russian pastors from a Reformed theological perspective.

In 2013, a group of 20 pilgrims from St. Andrews toured the Holy Land for 10 days. Closer to home, Pastor Joy chaired a committee to bring in a new interim executive presbyter, the Rev. Nancy Kahaian. Pastor John was chair of the transformation team, beginning in 2012, which over a period of three years led to restructuring of Presbytery of Tampa Bay to work as one presbytery in three regions with the mission to "identify and strengthen leaders so that congregations make new and mature disciples of Christ." St. Andrews treasurer Earle Brown was named treasurer of the Presbytery. Pastor John has since served as Presbytery vice-Moderator (2014), Moderator (2015), and chair of the Coordinating Team (2016), once described as the Session of the Presbytery.

An unusual number of people from St. Andrews have felt the call to ministry. A number of retired pastors worship with us, as well as others who have seminary training. The church has three students, Felinto Almeida, Kitti Ginn, and Stephanie Dion, who are preparing to become pastors. Ron Marston and Barry Dowdy have just completed or are about to complete requirements for being Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs), previously known as Commissioned Lay Pastors.

One Church. One Mission. Two Locations.

In February 2016 St. Andrews merged with Westminster Presbyterian Church of New Port Richey, creating St. Andrews Presbyterian Church New Port Richey Campus, and becoming one church, one mission, and one Session, operating in two locations.  At New Port Richey, weekly worship and monthly outreach events have begun; a leadership team headed by Barry Dowdy is in place; and a full-time minister for youth and families, Jean Lapitan, has been called. At both the Dunedin and New Port Richey Campuses, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church is at work fulfilling its mission: Love God. Love People. Push Back the Darkness.

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