In Memoriam - Rev. Paul Hoyer

In Memoriam - Rev. Paul Hoyer

Founding Pastor

In Lake Mary Paul flexed his leadership muscle, bringing energy and determination to various efforts to serve and support missional and social endeavors throughout Central Florida and beyond. He led the planting of Holy Cross Lutheran Church by walking door-to-door through the Lake Mary neighborhoods of the mid-eighties. As pastor of Holy Cross he was known to follow first-time visitors to their cars post-worship to shake their hands and make a personal connection. Around Seminole County he was a founding leader at The Sharing Center, and lent his wisdom and support to efforts such as Kids House of Seminole, Shepherd’s Hope, The Oasis, and Lake Cares Food Pantry. Regionally and nationwide, Paul was an influential leader for the Center for US Missions, the SELC District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Thrivent Financial, and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. While Paul was a dynamic leader in service, Paul was also never afraid to get his hands dirty – or he may have just appreciated any excuse to use a chainsaw!

Paul is survived by his wife Betty and his four kids and their spouses – Sara Russell (John), Ben (Megan), Meredith Schott (Ryan), and Jacob (Erin). He is also remembered by his 8 grandkids who call him Poppy – Owen; Wesley, Ellie, and Hazel; Kellen and Lucas; Susan and Elijah. This crew knew he would always let them have an ice cream bar, as long as they brought one for him too. There are countless others who knew him as Pastor and surrogate dad.

From 1981 – Present…

1981 The SELC District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) bought 4.89 acres of land in Lake Mary for a new mission.

1983 Pastor Paul Hoyer and his family moved to Lake Mary and began mission work in a storefront on Lake Mary Blvd. The first Worship Service was in December of that year.

1984 On September 9, Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Lake Mary was formed with 48 adult members and a few children. A Building Committee was formed.

1986 In June, work was begun on the first building for Holy Cross Lutheran Church. The building was built with volunteer labor.

1987 The building was completed at a cost of $330,000.00 and dedication was in March of that year. Attendance then topped 100 per Sunday. Betty Hoyer started the Preschool.

1988 The Preschool flourished with two teachers and many of the preschool and VBS families became members of Holy Cross. Attendance at worship hit 120 with two services. Holy Cross became a part of the Christian Sharing Center.

1992 The church added a contemporary service on Saturday nights. Pastor Dave Schillinger came on part time as the Pre School director and also did some Pastoral duties.

1993 Another contemporary service was added at 9:30 on Sunday mornings; weekly attendance was around 200. Plans were begun for additional classroom space for the preschool.

1995 The debt on the building and land was reduced $150,000 through congregation donations; the church also received a bequest from Evelyn Haygreen for more than $500,000.

1996 The timetable for building was moved up, more than 150 volunteers worked on a capital campaign and pledges for more than $500,000.00 were gathered. In education, Edie Herota became our Preschool Director.

1998 On February 2, the new building was dedicated and the next Sunday there was over 300 in worship and attendance numbers began to climb.

1999 In the new building the preschool continued to grow and with the urging of the community an elementary school was begun. That year Holy Cross and St. Peters worked together to build a Habitat House.

2000 Five acres of land was bought on Highway 46 for a childcare center. The church called Pastor Nathan Guelzow to be the first youth Pastor. Attendance was up to 425 per Sunday.

2001 The Childcare Center opened, Charles Patterson came from Texas to run the Childcare and play organ and keyboard. Holy Cross Lutheran Academy used one of the rooms at the church in order to have school up to 2nd grade. After 9/11 attendance averaged 485 for that year, making Holy Cross one of the 30 fastest growing churches in the LCMS.

2002 The church sold a little less than an acre of land that had been our retention pond and with the proceeds built 6 more classrooms by the childcare for the Academy and built a music room and a youth room above the preschool building on the church campus.

2003 This was a year of staff changes. Pastor Jon Thomas replaced Nathan Guelzow. Bob Ducat came on as a worship leader. Office staff all changed and Chris Johnson started along with Sue Moffitt. Betty Hoyer came back on staff as the principal and teacher for the Academy.

2004 Holy Cross Church started a new worship service on Sunday nights called “Hearts A Fire” geared for High School and College age people as a result the church finished the year with 500 average attendance.

2005 The childcare and the Academy merged and we had seamless support for working parents from 6 weeks to the 5th grade as well as the preschool. The education part of Holy Cross Lutheran Ministries had over 350 students.

2006 Holy Cross was a part of Purpose Orlando with 30 small groups in addition to our other small groups. 45 people went to Panama over 8 weeks. We did a capital campaign and $1.4 million was pledged. With that we built Shepherd’s Hope in the Sharing Center Plaza and a two story middle School on the Academy campus that allowed the Academy to expand up to 8th grade.

2008 Holy Cross gained a third pastor with the installation and ordination of Benjamin Hoyer. The 20th VBS held at Holy Cross was a tremendous success with registration filling up less than 24 hours after it opened. We began work with Dr. Elry Orazco in Amatitlan Guatemala and a free Clinic was begun.

2009 Holy Cross celebrated 25 years of bringing Jesus to everyone by serving the needs of our community and growing the faith of all who believe. L-Teams were begun and “Live, Love, Learn” became a familiar phrase.

2010 The students of Holy Cross Lutheran Academy raised $5,214 and along with 200 volunteers made and packed 30,672 meals for the Kids Against Hunger Program. In the summer of that year

Zach Zehnder was called and installed as the 4th pastor on the staff. Downtown Credo was begun as a non-profit by Ben Hoyer at the same time that he started the Cross Orlando as a new mission. We did our third capital campaign “Imagine” and 1 million 800 thousand dollars were pledged to expand the mission of HCLM toward the “Vision 2020” goals that were also set that year.

2011 The year started with Jon Thomas leaving for a senior pastor position in California and Matt Wallis came on as the new senior pastor of Holy Cross Lake Mary and Pastor Paul Hoyer became the Executive Pastor in charge of all the ministries of Holy Cross. Zach started the Cross East Lake with a rented space in Mt. Dora. We built and opened the Oasis in the Sharing Center Plaza in October and Lyn Easton became the first manager.

2012 Jacob Hoyer came on as communications and graphic design and he and Chris Johnson both began the SMP program to lead to being Ordained Pastors. Pastor Adam Barcott and New City church in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando became a part of what we now call Central Florida Cross Network. Major renovations came to the Lake Mary Campus.

2013 The Cross East Lake went to two worship services and by the end of the year were worshiping with over 200 per Sunday. On Sunday mornings with worship at 4 different sites our attendance was approaching 700. The K-8 portion of our Academy went over 200 students.

2014 We increased support of Dr. Elry and his wife in Guatemala and “Santa Cruz” Amatitlan became our partner. We purchased 15 acres on Highway 46 that had been a private elementary school with 30 classrooms in order to move our middle school and allow us to plan for High School. We were able to lease 7,000 more sq.ft. of space in Mt. Dora for the Cross East Lake and work was begun on a 350 seat Sanctuary.

2015 We continued to move toward our 2020 Vision with the Plant & Build campaign. Our vision was to expand our ability to serve our community by Planting Churches, Growing existing Ministries and Building our community partnerships. The Cross Orlando moved into 1010 West Church Street – a repurposed WWI Airplane hangar in downtown Orlando.

2017 We successfully daughtered the Cross Mount Dora into an independently chartered church within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Two calls for church planters were returned by the seminary. Hopper Academy in Sanford was renovated as a community center for the historical Sanford community. Hurricanes swept through the Southern US and Carribean – 105 volunteers were mobilized into the community clearing debris and helping neighbors. The Board organized a visioning committee to look forward another decade and explore God’s plans for us.

2020 Pastor Paul Hoyer retired after 40 years in ministry and 35 years serving the Holy Cross family. Betty Hoyer retired from her leadership role at the Academy. Both continue to serve in leadership for the SELC district of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

2021 Pastor Ben Hoyer was nominated to be the Executive Pastor leading 4 churches and Holy Cross Lutheran Academy.

2023 Pastor Chris Johnson felt the call to plant a church out of Holy Cross Lutheran Academy and Resurrection Church was born. Worship began in time for Easter’s celebration of the Resurrection. Holy Cross Lake Mary was blessed with a road dedication changing our street name to Paul Hoyer Way in honor of our founding pastor.