Church celebrates 90th year

Published 10:05 pm Friday, August 16, 2013

A 90-year-old church will celebrate its anniversary this weekend with special services and recognitions.

Greater First Baptist Church Orlando, 600 Factory St., will have a special speaker, Betty Montgomery, assistant pastor of the church, at its 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, while William Lang of Mount Sinai Baptist Church will speak at a 3 p.m. service.

The church was organized during 1923 under the leadership of Isaac Smith. After a series of other leaders, Jason King took over as pastor in 1936 and led the church for 39 years until his death in 1975.

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Henry G. Baker led the church beginning in 1976 and left in 1985, then later returned in 1994 after James Edwards III served in between. Baker retired in 2010, and Moses Ware was called to serve.

“This is a great moment for Greater First Baptist,” Ware said. “A lot of churches are dissolving and closing their doors, while we as a church are growing.”

The church building has undergone numerous renovations and additions, also. It was without indoor plumbing until the late 1970s, Ware said recently.

“It took it some time to get bigger and grow,” he said.

The church also was known simply as First Baptist Church Orlando until the name was changed in 2001, shortly before the construction of the new sanctuary was completed. The former building was left as a fellowship hall.

“We’re about to do some renovating of both buildings to connect the two so we can bring it all together as one,” Ware said.

Since Ware took over, about 80 people have joined the congregation, bringing it to about 215 now.

“Our youth ministry has really grown tremendously,” he said. “Now we have our youth participating in all facets of our service.”

A mime and dance ministry, as well as a resurrected youth choir, now are available for youth.

Ware said the church reaching its 90th anniversary is exciting, and he encouraged people to come out to the services this weekend.

“It’s a benchmark where we’re going to be going to new levels with the church itself,” he said.