Tampa, Florida 2021-10-21 23:05:23 –
Winter Haven, Florida — One of Winter Haven’s oldest institutions is celebrating a major milestone.
More than 800 parishioners worship at Winterhaven’s first missionary Baptist church, but the pandemic kept many of them at home. Flora Lee Whitten is 93 years old and is one of the longest attending members of the church.
“If I live to see December 5, I’m 94 and I’m very grateful. I’m very grateful,” Witten said.
Growing up, her life was centered around the church. She used to sing in the First Baptist choir. Her favorite hymn is amazing elegance.
“Thank you for protecting me for the last few years. I thank him,” Witten said.
Her uncle Curtis Witten was one of the founders of the church. He and four other families, many of whom were former slaves, made their first service in 1881. They eventually built a sanctuary where the church still remains.
It will take another 30 years for the city of Winter Haven to be incorporated and become one of the oldest churches in the area.
“There are many problems we have defended over the years because that is what the church should do. It is about making a real difference,” he said.
Pastor Clifton Drison, the first missionary of the Baptist Church.
Rev. Drison said that over the years, First Baptists have worked with city officials to address issues such as affordable housing, mental health and the homeless. When the church celebrates 140 years, Dollyson believes it will continue its legacy of affecting the community.
“I often tell the church,’If the church is closed tomorrow, will we be missed?’ So we tell people the responsibility that the first missionary Baptist church in Winterhaven maintains. We want to make sure we have a world to reach, “Dreson said.
Historic Winter Haven church celebrates 140th anniversary Source link Historic Winter Haven church celebrates 140th anniversary