All God requires is a willing heart and improbable things begin taking place. Just a few months after the Lord captured Stu Fabricant's heart in 1983, he entered the Lord's Boot Camp. In 1991 Stu and his wife. Dee, moved to Tampa to fulfill their mission.
They joined Calvary Chapel, and with the pastor's permission, founded the "Hebrew-Christian Fellowship". It was just two couples gathered around the dining room table to examine the Word of God. That's how it all 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 building where a Messianic Synagogue had previously been!
The Hebrew-Christian Fellowship became the Messianic Fellowship, meeting on the second and forth Fridays. The group had grown large enough to require a board of eight directors — the New Jerusalem Council — and voted for two things: a new name (Shoresh David) and a location of their own. They chose a small storefront on Armenia Avenue, in the Mark II shopping strip. Even though it had less than 1,000 square feet, God was in it all the way. There was no doubt of that at the time. Mark 2:2 reads, "Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door." Well, 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, an even an oneg Shabbat, but one thing was missing. They had become a synagogue—now they needed a rabbi.
Stu was at a crossroads. Did God want him to go into full-time ministry, or continue selling insurance? The answer came at the 1997 MJAA National Conference in Pennsylvania. Steve Weiler was attending that conference and, in conversation, happened to mention to Stu of his desire to become a rabbi. His studies were not quite complete, and there was no replacement for Steve's job at the school where he was the Principal. But God's seed of inspiration was planted in both men that day.
Meanwhile, back in Tampa, something quite the opposite was happening at a little church on the other end of town. As their congregation dwindled, a few steadfast worshipers began praying for the seats 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 in their building - the House of Hope - but despite the situation, all were rejected. Then someone heard about the Messianic Jewish congregation on Armenia Avenue, and Fred Landry (Shoresh David's then Music Director) was invited to give a teaching on the tallit at an evening Service. All God's plans began to gel. There were board meetings at Shoresh David, board meetings at House of Hope, and combined board meetings. Finally, in 1998, it was decided that Shoresh David would move to the House of Hope building.
A few months later Steve Weiler was free to leave Philadelphia and move to Tampa. Shoresh David had its Rabbi and the seats began to fill with people praising the Lord.
- - -
This story is not over. Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue of Tampa soon outgrew the Sanctuary. The walls were bulging every Friday night, often with standing room only, as people came from distant towns and cities. Rather than relocate 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 on April 20, 2012, we welcomed Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue of Brandon, which became an independent congregation in October of 2013. In 2015, the Lakeland congregation led by Rabbi Yossi Laster became autonomous as well, now under their new name "Etz Chayim Messianic Synagogue". Also in 2015, two more boughs have since been added to the vine — a congregation in St. Petersburg and another in the South Bay/Ruskin area.
Now, look and see what God has done from such a small beginning. It takes just one seed to begin an orchard.