On April 6, 1900, the Rev. E. Thompson and twelve spiritual followers decided to form what was to later be known as Friendship Baptist Church, congregating at the home of Deacon and Sister Cromartie’s on Second Avenue (now Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard).  During Rev. E. Thompson’s pastorate, the Church became the seed of an oak tree which was moved to a garden on Spruce Street in the form of a small wooden building.  After several years, Rev. R. W. Lawrence became the caretaker of this great seed. 

Rev. E. Thompson returned to continue nurturing the seed for a brief time and during his second tenure gave rise to the continued growth of this church (seed).  He was called to pastor elsewhere.  His departure led the way for the arrival of the Rev. Allen T. Dixon.

After serving five years, Rev. Allen T. Dixon left Friendship to go to Philadelphia, PA.  Rev. D’Alpha Terry became the interim pastor for a year.  Shortly thereafter; Rev. Roy Henry (“R.H.”) Whittaker came and served for seven years

The next year, 1947, Friendship had a different leader in the person of Rev. Joseph James (“J. J.”) Jenkins. Due to some unexpected and seemingly insurmountable circumstances, he began another garden called New St. James Missionary Baptist Church, about nine short city blocks west of Friendship.  He served for fifteen years.  

Following the departure of Rev. Jenkins, The Lord sent Rev. James Clarence Wise to lead Friendship.  He brought about some renovations to the church.  The new Friendship was not just better than the old but was labeled “greater” from which it was then called Greater Friendship Baptist Church.  Rev. Wise served as Pastor for two years.  

After Rev. Wise’s tenure, On March 20, 1965,  God sent Rev. Dr. J. Cecil Bentley to lead the flock, his smiling, friendly and very helpful wife (aptly named) Naomi and their daughter, Theria, arrived.  They came exemplifying that they, too, were on a mission and on the battlefield for the Lord.  This began a thirty-year long relationship.  Greater Friendship soon became well known and stood as a beacon as one of the greatest Baptist churches on Florida’s East or Southeast Coast.

In February 1980, the building was almost totally destroyed by a fire.  The church was re-erected in 1981, with Pastor J. Cecil Bentley still our leader.  On one Sunday in March 1982, we marched back into our completely renovated church.  Pastor Bentley had long (since he arrived) lost his eyesight but not his vision.    His “vision” for Greater Friendship continued throughout the time of his tenure.  On March 26, 1995, the church bestowed upon him the honorary title of Pastor Emeritus.  Presently, he and his family still serve as members of this fellowship. 

On the fourth Sunday in March 1995, Pastor Bentley passed the care of Friendship to Rev. John Wesley McKenzie.   Seven months into his tenure as pastor, Rev. McKenzie was forced to deal with yet another fire at Greater Friendship in October of 1995. The Lord blessed us, however, and the repairs were made and the building was back in operation in less than six months.

In April of 2003, Rev. McKenzie resigned, after serving the church for seven years.  A new comer to the congregation, Rev. Dr. L. Ronald Durham, served as our interim pastor.  By August, of that same year, the church unanimously decided to appoint Dr. Durham as the 11th pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church.  

On April 5, 2015, Dr. L. Ronald Durham resigned as the Senior Pastor of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.  After Dr. Durham’s departure, the Interim Pastor, Rev. Tommie L. Robinson, Jr., came on board.  Rev. Robinson capably led the congregation until February 11, 2016 when Rev. Dr. Michael Chambers was elected as our new Pastor.   

Rev. Dr. Chambers officially became Pastor of this great church effective May 1, 2016.



Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Pastors

Rev. Emmons Thompson – 1900 –

Rev. R. W. Lawrence – (unknown)

Rev. Emmons Thompson – 19 – 1933

Rev Allen F. Dixon – 1933 – 1938

Rev. D’Alpha Terry – (served as interim pastor for one year) – 1938-1939

Rev. Roy Henry Whittaker – 1939 – 1947

Rev. Joseph James Jenkins – 1947 – 1962

Rev. James Clarence Wise – 1962 – 1964

Rev. Dr. Judge Cecil Bentley – 1965 – 1995

Rev. John Wesley McKenzie – 1995 – 2003

Rev. Dr. L. Ronald Durham – 2003 – 2015

Rev. Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. – 2015 – 2016 interim Pastor

Rev. Dr. Michael A. Chambers – 2016 - Present


 

 

 
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