History of the First Baptist Church of College Hill
The First Baptist Church of College Hill, as it is known today was organized in the year 1904, at the home of the late Deacon Garvin. Its name at that time was The Mount Olive Baptist Church. At a later date, Deacon Garvin was instrumental in purchasing the property for the construction of the Church. The property was located on 27th Avenue in Tampa, Florida and is now the present home site of St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church. The late Reverend Thomas served as Pastor of the newly organized Church. He served until the year 1906, and was succeeded by the late Reverend Adams.
The late Reverend Adams served as Pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church and served for one year.
In the year of 1907, the late Reverend D.F. Gammons joined Mt. Olive Baptist and was later ordained as a Minister. Showing characteristics of spiritual and intellectual qualities, he was later called to pastor the Church, and served from the year 1907 to 1923. Under his leadership, the church moved to its present location and a small wooden structure was erected in the year 1915. In the year 1918 the Church was re-named First Baptist Church of College Hill. On the third Sunday in May of 1923, and upon the recommendation of the late Rev. D.F. Gammons, the late Reverend J.C. Robinson was called to serve as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of College Hill.
After assuming the leadership role of Pastor, the late Reverend J.C. Robinson saw the need to erect a new building for worship. It was in the year 1948 that the old red brick two-story structure was erected. On the 21st day of October 1963, the Church also purchased four additional lots on 29th Street, which are presently being used as parking lots. The church also became incorporated with the assistance of the Late Reverend William Henry Gordon who was an Associate Minister at that time.
The Church’s name was officially changed to the First Baptist Church of College Hill Incorporated and was recorded in the Hillsborough County Courthouse. In the year 1965, under Rev. Robinson’s leadership, the lot on 28th Street and 33rd Avenue was acquired.
During Rev. Robinson’s tenure, several ministries were formed. Some of which were: Usher Boards No. 1,2, and 3, Choirs #2 & #3, and the Youth Choir (then named The Jr. Choir). A Choir #4 was later organized for the very young youth of the Church. The Church was blessed with its own musicians. The Missionary Society also gave birth under Rev. Robinson’s leadership, as well as the Brotherhood Auxiliary and the Pastor’s Aide Board. Under the leadership of Rev. Robinson, Brothers J.W. Austin, Edmond Patten, and William H. Gordon were licensed and ordained as ministers. Rev. Robinson served the Church as Pastor until his death and held the longest tenure of Pastors in the history of First Baptist Church of College Hill. (A total of 42 years)
On March 28, 1967, the late Rev. William Henry Gordon was called to pastor the First Baptist Church of College Hill. He delivered his first pastoral message on April 9, 1967 and acquired the role of Pastor. Rev. Gordon moved forward in the footsteps of his predecessor following through with the existing missions and education. He was also instrumental in activating the Hospitality Committee and the weekly Bible class. Many changes were made to the inside of the edifice – renovation, new furnishings carpeting, and the purchasing of a piano and organ. Many brethrens of notable character were set aside and ordained as Deacons under the leadership of Rev. Gordon. His wife, Rosalyn was the organizer of the Evan Huggins Circle. Rev. Gordon had visions of great depth and sought to provide space for the expansion of the Church. In the year 1974, the adjourning property near the church was purchased. In the following year (1975), the corner lot at Lindell and 29th street was under negotiation for purchasing. The Church grew and continued to prosper under the leadership of Rev. Gordon. On October 15, 1975, Rev. Gordon entered into eternal rest in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. He served well during his tenure
On November 2, 1976 the late Rev. Edmond Patten was elected by the Church to serve as interim pastor for the Church. Rev. Patten served the congregation well until the calling of Rev. Young Glover. Rev. Patten’s term as interim pastor expired on September 9, 1978.
On September 9, 1978, Rev. Young Glover accepted the call to pastor the First Baptist Church of College Hill. Rev. Glover delivered his first sermon as Pastor on September 17, 1978. On December 17, 1978, Rev. Glover was officially installed as Pastor for the First Baptist Church of College Hill. In February of 1979, Rev. Glover appointed Rev. Patten as the official church sick and visitation Minister. As Rev. Glover’s leadership matured, new and beneficial Committees were organized and inactive auxiliaries and organizations were re-activated. During his tenure, the first Church Parsonage were purchased on October 2, 1979 and the property at the corner of Lindell and 29th street was purchased in the year of 1980.
On January 29, 1980, the Church approved the recommendation that a scholarship fund be initiated and set-up at the Florida Memorial College in memory of the late Reverend J.C. Robinson and the late Rev. William H. Gordon.
Rev. Glover was also moved in the direction of developing “outreach ministries” for the sick and shut-in. He continued the support of the existing missions and imposed renovations and new furnishings to the Church. Rev. Glover saw the need to organize a building committee who in turn provided a building plan program for the construction of a new edifice. Again, many reputable and notable brethren were ordained to the Office of Deacon and Minister under Pastor Glover’s leadership.
On the 19th of February in the year 1991 the Lord blessed First Baptist to break ground for the new church. On August 14, 1991, the old edifice was demolished and on October 2, 1991, the trailer for the Construction Office was put in place on the rear parking lot of the property. On October 14, 1991, contractors began leveling the grounds for construction of the new church.
On Sunday, May 24, 1992, the Pastor, Officers, members and friends marched from the Prison Crusade building to the new church plant. A week of dedication services was held from June 8-June 14, 1992. On Sunday, October 18, 1992, during the 88th Church Anniversary, the International F & A.M. Masons laid the cornerstone.
Having led the Church to its goal, and reaching the end of his tenure, Rev. Glover submitted his letter of resignation to the Church for retirement in the November monthly conference. His resignation was effective January 1, 1993. It was at this business meeting that the Rev. Abraham Brown was elected as interim pastor for the Church and Rev. Glover was named Pastor Emeritus.
On Sunday, January 3, 1993, Rev. Abraham Brown delivered his first message as interim pastor. On December 8, 1993, Rev. Brown was “called” to pastor the Church. Pre-installation services were held nightly from January 14 - January 18, 1993. On January 16, 1994, Reverend Brown assumed the leadership role as Pastor of the Church. This “Moses” picked up the baton and ran with it; as a result a new “First Baptist was born. Rev. Brown had been instrumental in leading many souls to Christ and many visions for the church were brought to fruition. Under Pastor Brown’s leadership the following accomplishments were made:
Telephone Prayer Line was established, Promise Keepers & reactivation of The Brotherhood Ministry; Ways and Means Committee; Volunteer Church Security Ministry; Youth Bible Study; Youth Rap Group Fellowship, Swim Meets for Youth and Adults; restructured the Choirs by combining the three Adult Choirs and re-naming the “Voices of Praise” Choir; organized the Music Council and a Music Department; established the Soup Kitchen Ministry (which feeds the hungry on a daily basis); revitalized the Male Chorus, (placing emphasis on Male leadership); instituted the Married Couples and Singles ministry; restructured the Sunday School; reorganized the Youth Ministry with the hiring of a Youth Pastor, Rev. Evan Burrows; added an Associate Pastor to the Staff, Rev. Michael Neely; organized the Administration by the hiring of a Church Secretary, started the Tuesday evening “Supper” preceding the Prayer Meeting and Bible Study Ministry; initiated the Hot Meals Ministry and the Distribution of Food to the public twice a month; A Summer Camp program was also instituted. Rev. Brown also ordained three ministers of his staff, they were: Minister Melvin Carver, Minister Donald Sanders, and Minister Cornelius Murvin. Also, he ordained several men of reputable character as Deacons for the Church.
Other accomplishments to Rev. Brown’s credit are: the “early payoff and mortgage burning”; the expansion of a 15 passenger van fleet increasing from 1 to 5 vans, one identified as a “handicap van,” improving transportation to and fro the Church for various activities; the construction of a basketball court; the building of a retention pond; purchased six houses & lots adjacent to the Church; and the construction of the Abraham Brown Education Building. Many other accomplishments have taken place under Rev. Brown’s leadership. In 2005 Rev. Brown and the First Baptist Church of College Hill voted to promote Rev. Burrows to the role of Assistant Pastor. On December 31, 2007 Rev. Abraham Brown retired as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of College Hill.
Upon the retirement of Rev. Brown, Rev. Evan Burrows assumed responsibilities as Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church of College Hill. On May 31, 2008 Pastor Evan Burrows was officially elected, and Installed on July 27, 2008 as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of College Hill. Pastor Burrows hired Rev. Christopher Jarnegan as the new Assistant Pastor of First Baptist Church of College Hill.