Rolling Hills Moravian Church

In the 1950’s, flush with the excitement of the Quincentennial, the Southern Province launched a campaign to extend the Moravian Church into Florida. Rolling Hills was one of the four churches begun in that campaign. It is also the only one remaining.

The idea was to seek out Moravians already living in Florida who would form the core of a new congregation, and then have the church grow along with the neighborhood. Coral Ridge came first, then Boca Raton. Redeemer was the last.

Rolling Hills got its start when the Southern Province purchased 6 1/2 acres in the Sanlando area of Orlando in 1965. The property was covered in pine trees, and a narrow two-lane road ran by it. But the fast growing neighborhood offered splendid prospects for a new church.

David Burkette was called as organizing pastor, and Rolling Hills’ first service was held on August 7, 1966, in rented space in the Altamonte Springs community center. A parsonage was built, and it served for meetings until the church was completed and dedicated by Bishop George G. Higgins on August 13, 1967. Organizing of Rolling Hills as a congregation of the Southern Province followed that October 8.

Rolling Hills brought Moravian customs to a community previously unacquainted with them — lovefeasts, Christmas candle services, the Easter Sunrise Service, and the church band. Prospects were bright. An assistant pastor was called, and a Christian education building was constructed, designed so that a Montessori school could use it during the week.

And then, in the face of other denominations moving in, the Southern Province’s campaign into Florida fizzled. The other three churches — Coral Ridge, Boca Raton, and Redeemer — faded away.

But Rolling Hills was not left alone. From our Provinces to the south, especially Nicaragua, came a stream of members who formed the nucleus of new churches — Prince of Peace, New Hope, King of Kings.

Rolling Hills too was revitalized, so that in 1991 the church was renovated, and the congregation embarked upon a renewed dedication that continues today.