When Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid presented the key to the town to the Bodin family, he noted how rarely that happens.
“You have to be special people and be exceptional human beings,” Cid said in Town Hall on May 11th, which he proclaimed “Bodin Family Day.”
The accolade was tinged with wistfulness though, as Stuart Bodin, 60, is leaving as pastor of Miami Lakes United Methodist Church, after leading the congregation for a dozen years. The Church is sending him to Titusville to be the pastor at Indian River City United Methodist Church.
Bodin and his wife Gloria Bodin, 56, will begin the next phase of their lives there on June 28th.
“It went by pretty quick,” Stuart Bodin said. “We’ve had a great time here and met some wonderful people, which we are going to miss.”
Members of the church will feel his absence, too.
“He’s been a wonderful asset at our church for 12 years and we’re going to miss him desperately,” said John Baron.
He said he and his wife Barbara Baron have belonged to the congregation since 1989.
“Pastor Stuart is more than just a pastor,” Baron said. “He does everything at the church.”
During the May 11th council meeting, Cid said his family belongs to the church and said Bodin’s pending departure is “a huge, huge loss to our community.”
Cid called Bodin’s sermons “life-changing” and praised his devotion to the community, whether with the annual Pumpkin Patch sale every October, establishment of a weekly men’s breakfast, weekly Bible study group and the Celebrate Recovery program, to help those in pain or struggling with addiction.
Bodin also expanded services to Palm Springs United Methodist Church in Hialeah, began a contemporary service and online services, Cid noted.
When hurricanes destroyed a church in Mexico Beach, Fla. or struck the Florida Keys, family members would embark on missions to help victims rebuild.
“They were always, always there for others, people they didn’t even know, which was very powerful,” Cid said.
Gloria Bodin also led children’s programs, vacation Bible study, tutoring at Palm Springs United and worked in the church office.
The couple’s children – Erica, 24; Derek, 22; Kade, 19 and Dane, 18 --
traveled for missions, participated in church youth activities and also worked at the Pumpkin Patch, Cid said.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020, the church began providing meals, meat
and produce, non-perishables and toiletries from
its property at 14800 NW 67th Ave. and Miami Lakes Drive.
In July that year, the church partnered with Feeding South Florida, said Yamil Toledo, the church’s office manager.
By mid-October, food distributions were moved to Saturdays, when up to 800 cars, some arriving at 4 a.m., would line up along Miami Lakes Drive, west from the church to the Palmetto Expressway and down the service road.
Miami-Dade Police officers managed traffic at each intersection.
Fourteen months of food distributions by the church ended on April 14th this year.
“Miami Lakes was very generous with their police force throughout the 55 weeks,” Toledo said. “We could not have done it without them.”
Alex Christian, 59, will become the new pastor on July 1st.
“My wife Velma and I are very excited to be coming to Miami Lakes,” said Christian. “We fell in love with the people and the community. God is calling us there.”
Since 2019, Christian was pastor at Memorial United Methodist Church in Lake Placid, Fla.
Christian said he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ministry from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, in Orlando, Fla.