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What became of the Florida church with the toppled steeple?

Club Zion Community Church © D.P. Clarke
Club Zion Community Church © D.P. Clarke
Club Zion Community Church © D.P. Clarke

Hurricane season is upon us again, and anyone who travelled Florida’s Route A1A between Cape Canaveral and Melbourne at the end of 2004 may remember the horrific sight of a church steeple embedded in the roof of a building. It had been toppled by one of several hurricanes which had battered the state that year. On the tenth anniversary of that devastating season, spoke with the churches current occupants about its recovery. Their story begins in another place, at another time.

In 1998 Club Zion Community Church was started in a storefront. The hope was that it would be a church where young adults could go in Cocoa Beach, Fla. The first Sunday it opened its doors, 30 middle aged couples with children showed up. Undeterred by the fact that his target audience wasn’t present, Pastor Keith Capizzi still helped the church grow. Several years later the storefronts they operated from could no longer contain the overflowing crowds.

At that point the churches leaders went in search of a new property. At first they tried building their own facility in early 2004. But, after selecting a location, putting money down, and drawing up plans, the developer went under. Another building they considered was refused them by the city. All the while they were seeking a new location, they were holding their summer youth surf camps in a Baptist church off of Florida Route A1A.

The church had been there since 1964. The building was old and the congregation was growing older along with it. In addition, their numbers had dwindled to where the facility had become a financial burden to maintain. It became apparent they were either going to lose it, or it would be condemned. They began looking for a buyer.

The pastor of the church approached Pastor Keith at one of the surf camps and suggested they make them an offer. Even though his church didn’t have a lot of money, after some discussion, the elders agreed to his suggestion to buy the old Baptist church. Not wishing to insult the present owners, they still offered what they could, and it was accepted.

Amazingly, Club Zion Community Church purchased the building after it was damaged in the hurricane. According to Pastor Keith, “The hurricane was almost the crippling factor for them and they could never catch up after that. The destruction was too extreme. Every classroom, every building, every room was really in bad shape. [The steeple] came through the roof and through the balcony and flooded everything.”

Shortly after the purchase it poured rain for a week, and Pastor Keith began to have buyer’s remorse. However, through it all he recognized that God had a plan. Eventually the money came in and the restoration was completed.

In a full circle befitting the elegant old church, it’s where Pastor Keith was first saved and later ordained. And now, under his care, it’s been restored to its former grandeur.