A Brief History of Community Presbyterian Church, Deerfield Beach, FL
The Steeple on the Beach
Our Beginnings: During World War II, a civilian employee at Boca Raton Air Field, David H. Crosby, and realtor, E.C. Wilmer, brought together about a dozen people on May 14, 1944 to establish Community Presbyterian Church of Deerfield Beach. Within two weeks, Fr. Francis M. Fox, Pastor emeritus of First Presbyterian Church, West Palm Beach, was conducting regularly scheduled services in either the Crosby home or at the Deerfield Land Company.
On February 13, 1946, the church was chartered. On Easter Sunday, March 28, 1948 the first worship service was held in the new church building which is now known as Briggs Hall. The church could seat up to 100 people. Under Dr. Fox’s leadership, the membership grew steadily until 1952.
1950's: In 1952, a pulpit committee actively sought a new minister They offered an annual salary of $3,000.00, a furnished manse (stove and refrigerator included!) and a $25.00 a month car allowance. Arland and Margaret Biggs answered the call. Our current church office building was the original manse; it was also used as the Sunday school.
In 1956, the land for our present sanctuary was acquired at a cost of $33,000.00. The first unit of the education building was commissioned and built in 1957. The education building was completed in 1966.
1960's: Commissioned in 1961, the sanctuary and Fox chapel were dedicated on May 3, 1963.
1970's: The mortgage was “burned” at an annual meeting of the congregation on January 19, 1975.
In 1977 there was a wonderful new addition to the church music program, the Cortese organ. This 35 rank, 3 manual pipe organ containing over 2,000 pipes was installed at a cost of $90,000.00. In 1978 a Baldwin Grand piano was added to the church’s music ministry.
1980's: Dr. Briggs retired on July 1, 1981 after 29 years of service to this church. Under his leadership. The membership swelled to almost 1000 and the church was a hub of community activity.
A number of pastors continued to serve the congregation.
A New Millennium: The new millennium saw the revocation and expansion of the choir space in our sanctuary along with the renovation and expansion of our pipe organ, which included horizontal trumpets by Guzowski & Steppe Organbuilders, Inc., Fort Lauderdale. The organ continues to sound out the praises of God week after week.
In September 2015, after spending time on Refocusing with Diane Shoaf, the church expressed a desire for Community Presbyterian Church to continue to witness to Christ in our community. A major issue confronting the congregation was how do we care for all of our aging buildings, being good stewards of the resources God has given to us.
Half our buildings today are used by the Montessori School and a Brazilian congregation. The Presbytery of Tropical Florida Council voted to move their headquarters to our church campus in 2015. This fit in perfectly with our refocusing vision of having groups involved with mission come and serve with us.
In 2016, the church celebrated its 70th anniversary of ministry. A special celebratory worship service brought 200 people together, and as a part of the celebration, a tree was planted in honor of the Briggs family.
So in this 21st century, Community Presbyterian Church, or the Steeple on the Beach, continues to shine as a beacon of Christ’s all-inclusive light and love.
The 21st century brought things that we could never have imagined. A pandemic, its restrictions, lockdowns, and fears brought much of our country and our world to a grinding halt. While there was a time we were unable to gather for in person worship, Community Presbyterian Church, like so many other churches realized the possibilities and power of the internet, and so for a time we became a cyber-church, live-streaming Sunday worship and Bible study.
While the pandemic has unfortunately not yet ended, and we are not even certain that it has to some degree subsided, we have returned to in-person worship on Sundays. Like so many churches, our beginning returning numbers were small, but we have seen some steady growth, and we hope that those signs of growth continue as we reopen and rebuild our community. And we continue to live stream our Sunday worship.
In 2021, The Presbytery of Tropical Florida decided to move their headquarters to "The Sanctuary" in Fort Lauderdale. While their presence will be missed, we are a people of hope, confident that when God closes a door, God opens a window. And so the journey continues. Come and join us for worship: community, the Word of God, preaching, fellowship, and inspiring music.