Vision and Faithfulness:
The Story of Markham Woods
In 1984, Markham Woods Presbyterian Church was launched by Central Florida Presbytery’s New Church Development Committee, which provided the funds to purchase the original five acres to form a new congregation reaching the Lake Mary, Sanford and Longwood communities. The first worship service was celebrated on July 21, 1985 in the private residence which occupied the property. The organizing pastor was Dr. Don T. DeBevoise.
It took less than a year for the new church to become chartered by Central Florida Presbytery of the PCUSA, with 101 members and Dr. DeBevoise as founding pastor on April 20, 1986. The signatures of those faithful who sought to be the church at Markham Woods hang in our Narthex today. We worship, teach, serve, offer ministry and enjoy the fellowship of Christ in and around this church campus because of those who put the vision and command of Christ into action through MWPC.
Because there was such rapid growth in the membership, it was necessary to move quickly to provide permanent facilities for the ministries and programs already taking shape. A triple-wide trailer was purchased for worship and fellowship while the first permanent building, the main sanctuary, was being built. The ground breaking for the new sanctuary was held on October 11, 1987 and the building was opened for worship on August 28, 1988
As the church was experiencing growth, Rev. Matt Blanzy was added to the pastoral staff as parish associate and remained in that position for several years. In the late 1990’s, salaried staff positions were added for children’s, student and adult ministries, as well as the growing music ministry.
With fellowship and other activities of the church rapidly outgrowing the modular building, the leaders of the church moved forward in the construction of a fellowship hall, kitchen and three classrooms. Anderson Hall was opened for use in 1993 just in time to host the December meeting of Central Florida Presbytery. Anderson Hall quickly became a magnet for groups within both the church and the community offering a large space for a variety of activities.
In the early-to-mid 1990’s a preschool became an integral part of the church’s outreach and continues to be a growing program with an outstanding reputation in the community.
Dr. DeBevoise retired from the pastorate in June of 1996 and was later designated “pastor emeritus” in 2006. While the search was conducted for a new pastor, Rev. Ernest Flaniken served as interim pastor until 1997. In October of 1997 Rev. Charles R. Jones was installed as the second called pastor serving Markham Woods. The Rev. Harold DeRoo, a retired Reformed pastor volunteered to form a new senior ministry called Primetimers.
In 1997 a one-acre parcel directly south of the existing church property was purchased. Then in 2000, an additional five acres, which included a house, located immediately west of the church property, was purchased in order to meet the future growth needs of the community at Markham Woods. In 2005 the house was converted into a student center to serve our growing student ministry.
Rev. Jones resigned his pastorate in the spring of 2003. Rev. Dr. Michael Andrews served as interim during the span from 2003 - 2005 while the congregation moved deliberately to seek God’s will for this congregation. That process concluded with the installation of the third called pastor Rev. Joe Wendorph on October 5, 2005, who serves presently.
As the mission and ministry of Markham Woods continued to grow in all directions, the Church moved in September, 2010, to call the first Associate Pastor, the Rev. Karen Greenawalt. She resigned her pastoral duties with MWPC in May 2016. Rev. Greenawalt was installed as a Senior Pastor in WV.
The Lord's Blessings
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Several years ago Rev. Wendorph along with the Session set the vision and ministry direction for Markham Woods Church as “Growing The Faith Of The Whole Family Of God, Inwardly Strong, Outwardly Focused.” With this vision in place the church has begun growing disciples to meet the call of ministry for those inside as well as outside the church walls. Additional key ministries to accomplish our vision such as the Alpha Course and the Disciple program were engaged and helped to accelerate growth within the vision.
God takes notice of His children’s bold commitments to the Kingdom. Now we are witnessing dramatic and inspirational revival, hearts inviting Christ to be Lord of their lives. In just a few short years hundreds of people have been attracted to our church community by making a commitment to our ministry as new members of Markham Woods Presbyterian Church. We are truly becoming a disciple-making church!