LGBTQ South Florida

St. John’s on the Lake to honor two LGBTQ church members, Scott Huizenga and Terry Dewis

Members of LGBTQ-affirming St. Johns on the Lake United Methodist Church march in the 2014 Miami Beach Gay Pride parade.
Members of LGBTQ-affirming St. Johns on the Lake United Methodist Church march in the 2014 Miami Beach Gay Pride parade. Miami Herald File

To celebrate its 90th anniversary, Methodist church St. John’s on the Lake of Miami Beach on Nov. 23 will honor two LGBTQ congregation members Scott Huizenga and Terry Dewis with an awards ceremony and brunch, including a proclamation from Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Here’s the complete news release from the Rev. Carol Hoffman-Guzman, president of St. John’s Church Leadership Team:

St. John’s on the Lake, a United Methodist Church, celebrates its 90th anniversary on Sunday, Nov. 23, with a proclamation from the Miami Beach mayor, Philip Levine, and an honoring of several key members.

St. John’s was the first United Methodist church in the southeastern United States to become a Reconciling Congregation. In 1997 the church officially adopted the designation of “reconciling community” and approved a statement that specifically welcomes people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Today the St. John’s congregation has LGBTQ members in all areas of its lay leadership – in the church, the St. John’s Montessori Academy, and the Arts at St. Johns. However, when the congregation first began in 1923, such acceptance and inclusiveness was far from the minds of most founding members.

The first meeting place for St. John's Methodist Church was in an upper room of Smith’s Casino at Ocean Drive, south of First Street. Most of the congregation came from the mainland of Miami and were primarily snowbirds from up north. On Sundays they arrived either by one of two boats, the 'Lady Lou' or the 'Dixie Belle,' or by automobile over Collins' wooden bridge, the longest bridge of its kind in its day. T. E. James, the third mayor of Miami Beach, taught the first adult Sunday School class.

The congregation later moved to the second floor of the new post office on 5th street and then built a small church on 6th street and Jefferson. Finally in 1949 the church moved to its current location at 4760 Pine Tree Drive, on a piece of land donated by S. S. Kresge (of Kresge’s Five and Dime).

Today the congregation is much more eclectic and diverse than its original white and well-to-do membership. The church is pastored by Rev. Dr. T. Glenn Bosley-Mitchell, Senior Pastor, and Rev. Gaye Bosley-Mitchell, Worship Pastor. The church is a long-time member of the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and has participated in the Gay Pride Parade and Weekend for several years.

On Nov. 23, two key LGBTQ members will be honored:

▪ Scott Huizenga, who has contributed considerable time and support to the capital improvement of the church, including the current renovation and beautification of the seawall and the back patio, which will be used for gatherings, parties and arts events.

▪ Terry Dewis, who was instrumental in seeking the Reconciling designation for the congregation. Terry has also been an integral board member of the Montessori School, which was once attended by the son of Terry and his partner Andy Casas.

If you go

The public is invited to attend the church’s 90th anniversary. The schedule is as follows:

▪ 11 am –Sunday Service

▪ 12:15 - Informal brunch

▪ 12:45 – The awards ceremony for Scott Huizenga, Terry Dewis and other church members. This honoring will be accompanied by some music, including a song by former member, Lanny Smith (Earthman), singing his composition “Love Can Build Anything,” which was the official United Methodist song during the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Andrew.