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All God requires is a willing heart and improbable things begin taking place. A few short months after the Lord captured his heart in 1983, Stuart Fabricant entered God’s boot camp. And by 1991 he and his wife Dee had moved to Tampa to fulfill their mission.
Stu and Dee joined Calvary Chapel, and with the pastor’s permission founded the Hebrew-Christian Fellowship. Just two couples gathered around the dining room table to examine the Word of God. That’s how it began. But from such humble beginnings God had a much greater plan.
For the next few years their membership grew very slowly. Discouragement set in and finally one day, in desperation, Stu cried out to the Lord.... “I told the Lord if he wanted me to continue on he’d have to bring some additional people, and eighteen new people showed up that very night!” Just to be sure there was no mistaking His instructions, God did something really bizarre. Calvary Chapel moved to a new location—a place where a Messianic Synagogue had been!
The Hebrew-Christian Fellowship became the Messianic Fellowship, meeting on the second and fourth Fridays. Now the group had grown large enough to require a board of eight directors, the New Jerusalem Council. They voted for two things: (1) a new name: Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue, and (2) a location of their own. They chose a small storefront on Armenia Avenue, in the Mark II shopping center. Even though it had less than 1,000 square feet, God was in it all the way—there was no doubt of that by this time. Mark 2:2 reads, “Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door.” By the third meeting there was not nearly enough space to accommodate the congregants that tried to squeeze in on Friday night. There was music, dancing and even an oneg (bite to eat after the meeting), but one thing was missing. They had become a full fledged synagogue; now they needed a Rabbi.
Stu was at a crossroads, nothing new about that. Did God want him to go into full-time ministry, or continue selling insurance? The answer came at the 1997 Messiah Conference in Pennsylvania. Steve Weiler was at that conference and in conversation happened to mention his desire to become a rabbi. There was no replacement for Steve’s job at the school where he was principal, but God’s seed of inspiration was planted in both men that day.
Meanwhile, something quite the opposite was happening in a funny-looking little church on the other end of town. As their congregation dwindled a few steadfast worshipers began praying for the pews to be filled with people to praise and worship the Lord. God heard those prayers. Several new congregations approached the pastor about holding their church services at the House of Hope, but despite the situation all were rejected. Then someone heard about the little Messianic congregation on Armenia Avenue. Fred Landry (Shoresh David’s music director) was invited to the House of Hope one Sunday evening to give a teaching on the tallit (prayer shawl). All God’s plans began to gel. There were board meetings at Shoresh David and board meetings at House of Hope. There were combined board meetings—and finally, in 1998 it was resolved. Shoresh David would move to the House of Hope.
A few months later Steve Weiler was free to leave Philadelphia and move to Tampa. Shoresh David had its rabbi, and the pews began to fill with people praising the Lord. Now, look and see what God has done from such a small beginning.
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This story is not over. Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue of Tampa soon outgrew the Sanctuary at the House of Hope. The walls were bulging every Friday night, often with standing room only, as people came from distant towns and cities. Rather than relocating to a larger facility, it was decided that a sister congregation be opened. On Friday, March 5, 2004, Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue of Lakeland opened with 120 people in attendance. Later, in 2006, a third congregation was opened - Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue of Wesley Chapel. And now, on April 20, 2012, we welcome our newest sister congregation, Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue of Brandon. From one seed comes a vine, but from one vine comes a vineyard.
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