Celebrating over 50 years of Adventist Education in South Georgia
During the years that Adventists operated the hospital in Lakeland beginning in 1958, many church members moved to Lakeland to aid in the development of the hospital. Since there was not an Adventist church or school there, they commuted to Valdosta for church school and worship.
Members living in Lakeland withdrew membership from Valdosta and organized a company in 1968. The Lakeland Seventh-day Adventist Church officially opened for public worship on Sabbath, March 1, 1969.
Lakeland Adventist School (grades 1-8) opened in September 1968 at the Woodmen of the World building with 10 students enrolled. On March 6, 1969, the school moved to the new church building and classes were held in the Sabbath School classrooms.
In 1981 classes started in a new school-gymnasium complex. The Lakeland church, school, and hospital were located on the same property. For the 1981-1982 school year, 39 students were enrolled, the highest enrollment in the history of the school.
With the sale of the hospital in 1991, the church and school began to struggle financially. In an effort to keep the school in operation, the Lakeland and Valdosta churches began to discuss the possibility of a merger. The Lakeland Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Valdosta Seventh-day Adventist churches merged in 2009. The merging of the churches was accomplished after many years of discussion and joint board meetings. The Valdosta church property sold first in 2010 and the Lakeland property in 2017. In 2012, the Valdosta Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Lakeland Seventh-day Adventist Church were able to move to the new location in Valdosta. The church was named Park Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church and the school was renamed Valdosta Christian Academy. Our first Sabbath in this facility was May 5, 2012 and Valdosta Christian Academy began in August 2012.
Valdosta Christian Academy continued to serve grades 1-8. Church members had been praying for a Kindergarten program for several years. The school has a playground but needed a fence for the kindergarten students.
In April 2017, Pastor Marlon Seifert, his wife Vanessa, and their two children joined us. Pastor and church members prayed specifically during prayer meetings for a fence during the summer of 2017. One elder was approached by someone he never met in a Wal-Mart parking lot asking if he needed a fence. He drove to her house and it was practically new chain link fencing. An offer was made and accepted. The fence was installed by another elder and members in January 2018. The Kindergarten program started the 2018 school year – the 50th anniversary of Lakeland Adventist School/Valdosta Christian Academy.
During the 2017-2018 school year, VCA had one principal/teacher, Janice Reyes, and 7 students. For the 2018-2019 school year, we have 19 students enrolled. Our outstanding teachers are Janice Reyes, the principal and upper grades teacher and Ginger Williams, the lower grades teacher.
The Lord is leading and we anticipate many more exciting opportunities for our church and school to serve this community.