A BRIEF HISTORY OF HOLY SACRAMENT EPISCOPAL CHURCH
In 1955 a group of parishioners from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hollywood received permission from Bishop Henry I. Loutitt to establish a church in the West Hollywood area. An organizational meeting was held in November that same year. The name, The Church of the Holy Sacrament, was chosen and the first priest, the Reverend Wells Folson was introduced.
In March, 1956, Holy Sacrament held its first worship service in the Mahan building at 63rd Avenue and Filmore Street in Hollywood, Florida. The parish continued to worship there for about two years. In 1959, Bishop Loutitt approved the purchase of the ten acre tract in West Hollywood which is the present site of our church. Services were held in a tent until the church, parish hall and two church school buildings were constructed on the property in the early 1960s. The following decade brought grace and growth to the parish.
Father Edward Aldworth served as Priest-in-charge from 1957–1958 after which Father Peter Tonella arrived. During his tenure ten (10) acres of property containing a home with a pool was purchased to be used as a rectory.
The Reverend Henry N. F. Minick was our vicar from 1961–1964. While the first building and parish hall were being built a large tent was erected on the grounds in which services were held. Later, two buildings used for Sunday School Classes and meeting rooms were built.
During the period of 1964 to 1970, The Reverend George Gurney served as our priest and Vicar. During this time a concert choir “The Tilted Halos,” under the direction of Harry Norton was formed. For several years concerts of old, traditional, and contemporary music were presented at many area churches from South Miami Lutheran to Saint Andrew’s, Fort Pierce. This choir grew to about thirty-five (35) members, from ages, ten to seventy-five, including many instrumentalists.
The Reverend Robert Switz served as a Vicar of Holy Sacrament Church from 1970 to 1974 and the Reverend William Hunt from 1974-1976. During this time the True Fund was begun with Lynn Ramshaw as organizer. This fund “Toward the Relief of Urgent Emergencies,” assisted many people in need. As many as forty-two (42) South Florida churches established True Funds.
From 1978 to 2002 Father Bryan Hobbs served as Rector. In 1979, he led the church through its first year of self-sufficiency and self-support to the stage of becoming a parish. Under his leadership, Holy Sacrament grew from a small mission congregation to a parish of well over one thousand (1000) members. This was also the year in which a day school, called The Academy, with a preschool and kindergarten, was opened. By 1984, first grade had been added and a grade each year for the next four years. The school was operated by the church until 2008 when the facility was rented by The Charter School of Excellence.
As the church grew so did its vision. Plans began to build a new sanctuary and to landscape the property. The present sanctuary was dedicated on May 5, 1985. After the new church was built, the older church building became the parish hall. Between 1985 and 1988, the Jake Dowerman Pavilion, the Thrift Shop were added and the church offices, Hetrick Hall (parish hall), and the rectory were all renovated. The church continued to grow in membership, with three services now held and an associate priest, The Reverend Canon Kenneth MacDonald joined our clergy.
In the middle of the 1980s, a Harvest Festival was held for several years. This included a carnival, a craft fair and an auction of items donated by parishioners and local businesses. In 1986, Holy Sacrament embarked on its first overseas mission to Haiti. Friends Reaching Friends was formed and international missions continue to be held yearly. In 1997, Father Hobbs also received his Doctor of Ministry degree in Missions and Church Growth from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1997.
In 1999 Phase 1 of our building program was completed wherein a new church office was dedicated, a new parking lot was added, landscaping was enhanced, the memorial garden constructed, and additional classrooms were built for the Academy and Sunday School use.
Dr. Hobbs left at the end of 2002 after twenty-four (24) years as Rector of Holy Sacrament, making him the longest serving rector of the church. He went on to become Archdeacon of Congregational Development of the Diocese of Southeast Florida. During the interim, The Reverend Canon Kenneth MacDonald served as our parish priest. In 2004, the Vestry called Father F. Wilson Brown to be their next Rector. He served until 2008. Three interim priests - The Reverend Dr. Perry Fuller, The Reverend John Cobriere and The Reverend David Collins - served until The Reverend Dr. Anthony B. Holder was called in January 2011 as the Third Rector of Holy Sacrament.