When Randy V. Thomas became pastor of Winston Park Church 19 months
ago, 22 people attended the first service. Today, Sunday morning attendance
at the Assemblies of God church in Coconut Creek, Fla., averages 300.
Winston Park A/G
in Coconut Grove, Fla., reaches out to new residents.
Thomas, in his first senior pastorate, has emphasized prayer and missions
giving, plus mobilizing the laity. "All people are ministers," he says;
and lay ministries are flourishing.
Coconut Creek, about 20 minutes northwest of Fort Lauderdale, is a
rapidly growing community of 38,000 residents. Winston Park is located
in the midst of a booming housing development. Winston Park Church has
targeted the new residents and the size of the congregation has
The congregation is a mixture of young and old, bankers and housekeepers,
white and black, Brazilians and Jamaicans.
Veterans are on his board of deacons, while many recent members head
up ministries. Contemporary worship has drawn a younger crowd while
occasional organ-accompanied hymns are familiar to senior citizens.
"Theres been no backlash because Pastor Randy didnt abandon
the original members," says Joe Gerardi, a member for four years. "Pastor
Randy loves the people, and a lot of people have responded by getting
involved." Gerardi is Sunday school superintendent and a praise team
John H. Brown, a member for five years, says the church has an atmosphere
where members enjoy ministry. "Its amazing what God can do if
we give Him a chance," Brown says.
Leroy Rand, one of three remaining parishioners from when the church
began in 1980, is grateful that Winston Park has lots of willing helpers.
Rand has served as everything from sound system operator to groundskeeper.
Thomas has been able to motivate by setting a vibrant example, Rand
says. "Pastor Randy does a tremendous job teaching and preaching from
the Bible," Rand says. "And he doesnt mind chiding us when necessary."
Since the beginning of last year, 28 people have made decisions to
make Jesus their Savior at the church.
"It seems like were growing every week," Gerardi says. "Were
looking forward to continued growth."
"Excitement, enthusiasm and anointing are all present at Winston Park,"
says Charles E. Hackett, Home Missions executive director. "This is
one of the most remarkable turnarounds I have ever witnessed."