Church offering more than just worship service

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Churches have traditionally been the backbone of many communities, particularly in urban America. Suffolk’s Orlando community is no different. The infusion of a $1.5 million &uot;full-service&uot; ministry, Greater First Baptist-Orlando, in the neighborhood gives credence to the work initiated seven years ago when residents came out of the woodwork to facilitate change in the crime-laden area.

This past Saturday, the new sanctuary was unveiled to the community. Dedication services were held Sunday. Adjacent to the new church, the original 79-old edifice is a reminder of the community’s struggle to see a vision unfold.

Gunfire, drug trafficking, a lack of economic mobility, and poor living conditions were all a dominant part of Orlando’s former landscape. Today there’s change and the vision of the Orlando community has been the driving force. New homes now replace dilapidated structures as Orlando’s revitalization comes to fruition.


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The church represents the cornerstone of this transition – and it’s worthy of the attention it’s generated.

The church projects a bold stature in Orlando, and the programs offered within the community will be no different. After-school tutorials, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, and various other initiatives will extend its reach.

As the Rev. Henry G. Baker put it, the church recognizes that it must be more than a place of worship, but also a mechanism that reaches beyond the pulpit to enhance the lives of those in the community. This is an innovative approach to ministry, a &uot;full-service&uot; ministry that is.

Traditionally, churches have been thought of as only places of worship open to the public on Sunday, absent the realization that these worship centers have multi-faceted potential to minister Monday through Saturday.

Greater First Baptist-Orlando is a shining example of this concept, and it will only further induce the rebirth of the neighborhood.

The Bible stated it best: &uot;Without a vision, the people perish.&uot;