BROOKSVILLE — Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and the community is invited to join in.
The church will host a talent show and ice cream social this evening; the public is also invited to Sunday morning's worship service.
"The show is being scripted and sounds both hilarious and entertaining," church publicist Dale MacKeown said about the 90-minute talent show. "It will include music, dancing and skits and will be emceed by a real couple of characters."
Talent will include songs from the 1940s and '50s, classical piano, a women's quartet, gymnasts performing an acrobatic routine, a duet, a piano and violin presentation by a father and his four daughters, a karate demonstration, a men's ensemble, a dance duet, a male quartet, an operatic solo and some comedy.
The cost for the show and ice cream social is $3 per person or $10 for a family. Children 3 and under will be admitted free.
Proceeds will go to the deacons' fund, which helps people within the church and the community who are in need.
The show is being sponsored by the church's Mission Minded Kids, fourth- and fifth-graders who support local mission projects done by the church.
Sunday's service begins at 10:30 a.m. and will include special music, a message by Pastor Matthew Everhard and church history presented by several of the congregation's charter members. Those members have also been interviewed over the past several weeks and will have their stories posted on the church Web page.
Gayle Brooks, church historian and co-chairwoman of the steering committee for the anniversary, was one of the charter members. In an interview, she recalled the beginnings of the church in 1987, when about 180 members parted ways with the First Presbyterian Church of Brooksville and began holding services at Pasco-Hernando Community College.
"The (First Presbyterian) church belonged to the Presbyterian Church USA. They are liberal by our conservative Southern standards," Brooks said. "It came time for us to leave."
In 1988, the newly formed church received its charter from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a denomination that had formed in 1981 as a response to the stances of the United Presbyterian churches in the North and the Presbyterian Church in the United States in the South.
According to the Evangelical Presbyterian website, its founders "had become increasingly distressed by liberalism within their denominations. They wanted to form a church that took seriously the words of Scripture, the theology of the historic confessions of faith, and the evangelical fervor of Presbyterian founders. They envisioned a denomination that was truly evangelical and truly Presbyterian."
The EPC would embrace the Westminster Confession of Faith, put forth in the mid 1600s, about the time the reformed church, begun during the Protestant reformation in Europe, was finding its way to North America. The denomination set forth "Essentials of our faith" and agreed to use liberty in nonessential matters, while fostering a spirit of love and charity.
Brooks said that is how Faith Evangelical operates.
"Our church is warm and friendly and welcoming and loving," she said. "Everyone who comes to us says that."
Jacob Eige was called to be the church's first pastor. The congregation met for two years at the college before the first church building was erected.
"But we were happy," Brooks said. "We had Bible school at homes and church picnics at people's houses instead of in fellowship halls. And we just kept on going and trusting the Lord."
Brooks spoke of many changes over the years, including building three structures on the current property — 20 acres on Mount Fair Avenue donated by the Kimbrough and Bronson families in 1988.
"It is just shocking to look at 300 to 500 people in church on Sunday morning and to see our beautiful sanctuary and our Family Life Center," Brooks said. "We've just really been blessed. And we are debt free. Not a lot of churches can say that."
She said one of the blessings came in the way of the church's newest pastor, Everhard, who began in 2008.
"He is so passionate and loving," Brooks said. "And he is such a scholar. His love for the Lord and his love for the Bible is an example for all of us."
For charter member and elder Tommy Bronson, the best thing about the church is its spirituality.
"The formation of the church was driven by the members' desire to strictly adhere to the teachings of the Bible. Staying true to the Gospel message is what we formed the church around," Bronson said.
What would Bronson say to someone who is looking for a church home?
"There are so many good things that could be said about a Christian fellowship where people care about the Lord's message and consequently it leads them to care a great deal about each other," he said, noting that the church is also committed to missions and community outreach. "That's been the sustaining force and the direction of the church."
"It has been a fabulous journey, a blessed journey," she said. "We just pinch ourselves. We're just so fortunate."