When Rev. Monte Johnson, pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church on S. Florida Ave., was visiting his congregants at the hospital or in the hotels in which they lived, many of them expressed a need for a Christian retirement center in Lakeland.
The church formed a committee and they proceeded to explore the possibilities of providing a community for retired pastors, missionaries, and their wives. The Synod of Florida granted the church group permission to establish this community. Donations provided by Mr. Erwin Howland, a retired business man, and Miss Dora DeLay, a retired school teacher of modest means, allowed the committee to purchase a large house. The Synod of Florida accepted the gift of this home and then organized the administration of what is now known as Florida Presbyterian Homes.
The Homes continued to grow. Residents continued to worship on Sundays at Westminster Church; some even walked to church from the Homes. Many of the retired pastors filled in as needed as worship leaders and providers of pastoral care for each other. They enjoyed Bible studies and many hours of fellowship, dancing, music and putting on elaborate musicals.
The Sunday night Vesper services were held in what is now the Sunroom, the dining room was in the Game Room in ForrerBunker. Rev. Glenn Moore began to envision the need for a larger worship space, and actualized that vision. On Thanksgiving Day of 1987, the Glenn Moore Chapel was dedicated. It was a fitting central focus for the Homes.
Today, the Chapel serves a variety of purposes. Each Sunday there is (multi-denominational) worship service as well as a Vesper service on Sunday evenings. The Homes employs a fulltime ordained Presbyterian minister. The spiritual emphasis is on the variety of ways to find reconciliation to God, including contemplative communication with God, Bible study discussion groups and other community gatherings where we can tap into the wisdom of the many resident sages.
We have an active Stephen Ministry with over a dozen trained ministers. FPH is now a place where people of all faiths, all denominations, and many walks of life live in a community that still embraces the mission of living and serving together, providing quality, compassionate care true to our Christian values.
— Barbara Booth-Jarmon, Pastor