In 1922 there were no street lights in this area or even streets (just trails). Property and land owner Mr. Alfred White saw a need for the community to be brought together. marked off and gave a portion of the land he owned to the Church’s first Pastor and members to build the Church. He donated what is now the west parking lot for the very first Church site. Mr. White also named the Church, ”First Union Missionary Baptist Church”. A one room wooden structure was built. Kerosene and gas lamps were used for lighting purposes. An iron stove was used to burn wood for heat. A wooden keg with jelly jars were used for drinking water. There were no inside facilities, a medium size out-house served individuals comforting needs. The Church had a large bell that would ring every Sunday to acknowledge the beginning of Church service. It would also toll when a Church member died.
The first Pastor, Rev. Samuel Preston Miller, was called and the small wooden Church began to grow. When Rev. Miller went home to be with the lord, Rev “Jumping Jack” Williams was called to be the second Pastor. A young neighborhood preacher was called as the third Pastor, his name was Rev. O.S. Stephenson. He led First Union for a while, but later left First union to Pastor in Tarpon Springs.
The one room wooden structure was destroyed due to a house fire next door to the Church. So the second building was built under the leadership of the Church’s fourth Pastor, Rev. John Watkins. Though short and round, he was a very bold soldier for the Lord. The Church moved forward under the leadership of Rev. J.W. Watkins; when the little wooden Church was destroyed by fire, it was under his leadership that the first block Church was built.Due to his dedication and leadership ability, the congregation did not find it taxing to work hard at their various occupations during the day, and still come and work on the Church building until eleven at night. Everyone worked, even the children.
The Rev. Rufus Williamson was called as the fifth Pastor of First Union. After he resigned, one of the Associate Ministers, Rev. Joseph Thompson was called as the sixth Pastor. Rev. Williamson and Rev. Thompson both led the Church for a period of 25 years.
In 1984, First Union called it’s seventh Pastor, the Elder C.J. Long to lead the Congregation. Though he could not see physically, this man had a vision and made First Union a better place to be. He brought the sheep together, united in one fold; taught us how to love and for Christ to stand real bold. It was under the leadership of Elder Long that the current edifice was erected, and later the C.J. Long Fellowship Hall. On June 25, 1989, we marched into a new edifice. Under the leadership of this great man of God, the Church made great strides, a new van was purchased, property was purchased and respectable membership added. For nearly 12 years Elder long led the congregation, but because of his age and failing health, Elder Long resigned as Pastor in 1995.
For three years we prayed, worked hard, and with the guidance and wisdom that God gave to the Finance Team, in 1998 we were able to pay off the mortgage! First Union was debt free!
In February 1999, the Rev. Sylvester Robinson was called to be the eighth Pastor. On March 07, 1999 he began his tenor. This Preacher/Teacher, par excellent, led First Union for three years. Without exception, the pews were filled every Sunday under his leadership. On May 6, 2002, Pastor Robinson tendered his resignation.
In May 2003, the Rev. Danny C. Osborne was called as First Union’s ninth Pastor. He resigned in 2006.
On the evening of October 6, 2008, First Union called our current Pastor, Rev. Bruce E. Garmon, Sr., M.Div. Like David, he is a man after God’s own heart. God really smiled on First Union this time! With sleeves rolled up and jumping in with both feet, this Preacher/Teacher, and General Contractor by profession, has revived and inspired First Union in a new direction with a new (God-Given) vision.
In a very short period of time, the heart beat of First Union was once again invigorated! Ministries are being revived and new Ministries are continually being ordained. Two of the most recent expansions include the Greeters Ministry and the Adult Praise Dancers (a.k.a. Sistahs Praising The Lord). Pastor Garmon’s heart for the youth continues to be a vital part of the life force of First Union.
In addition, God has blessed the leadership of Pastor Garmon with a stalwart Deacon Staff and a Ministerial support team that has grown to seven strong! The Church Calendar is teaming with opportunities for Worship, Fellowship, and Discipleship. Church Members that are willing to assert themselves have numerous opportunities to present themselves a living sacrifice to the service of the Lord!
It is a proven fact that a Church will take on the personality of it’s Pastor, and First Union is definitely the place to be if you are sincere about your relationship with the Lord. If you want to have a great time living the life of a Christian and doing Kingdom building work, this is definitely the Pastor to have!
The hand of the Lord is definitely upon First Union; and after 91 years of ups and down, we are certainly experiencing a time of revival and restoration! We will continue to Press for our Blessings because we know that the best is yet to come!
First Union MB Church 3707 E.Chelsea Street Tampa, FL 33610 813-238-1205 (tel) 813-237-8833 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org