IN early 1996, Dale Locke learned from the Methodist Conference that he would be planting a church in South Florida. Pastor Dale was working in the Beeson Program at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY to get his doctorate in Biblical Preaching and Christian Church Leadership, and he was scheduled to travel to Seoul, South Korea. It was during that trip, on top of Prayer Mountain, that God lay the name of our new church on his heart: Community of Hope. In June 1996, he was officially appointed by the bishop, Rev. Cornelius Henderson, and Pastor Dale and his family had to pack their belongings to make the trek to Royal Palm Beach.
In the early days, he started by committing acts of kindness, such as handing out cold drinks on a hot day. By October 1996, he had a list of people who were interested in attending this new church that wanted to express God’s love in such practical ways. Our church grew to about 15 people during its time in the Locke family living room. But soon there just wasn’t any more room to grow. Pastor Dale knew it was time to make a move, so in January 1997, our church moved to Palms West Funeral Home. The funeral home let our young church use the chapel without charge, which was a huge help. Here, our church body doubled to about 30 people. And again, within about two months, our church was outgrowing the space.
The Royal Palm Beach High School was under construction, and Pastor Dale knew from God’s leading that it was the place we needed to be. The school wasn’t ready yet, but God opened another door for us: the Loxahatchee Groves Elementary School cafeteria.
At this point, Pastor Dale was doing it all: leading the worship and doing the preaching. He knew it was time to bring on someone to help relieve his load. So Chris Clifton came from Indiana, via an Internet search for a worship leader, to share his musical gifts with Community of Hope.
Community of Hope was officially launched on Easter Sunday 1997.
Later that year, RPBHS was near completion, and our church was offered an opportunity to rent the high school auditorium.
Unfortunately, the auditorium wasn’t quite ready for us. In the meantime, another opportunity opened up for our church: the high school cafeteria.
Then on November 2, 1997, Community of Hope held its first service in the Royal Palm Beach High School auditorium. And that’s where we’ve been growing ever since, with nearly 1100 weekly attendees.
And on May 15, 2011, we had our first official service in our new home located on the NW corner of Okeechobee Blvd. and “E” Road in Loxahatchee Groves, where we will continue to strive towards our mission to interest disinterested people in Jesus Christ and grow into fully devoted followers of Him!