Lillian Osteen was 3 when the Jacksonville First Seventh-day
Adventist Church was chartered in 1898.
At 103, the Southside resident remembers being baptized at the
church when it was on Pearl Street on the Northside.
Osteen doesn't get to attend the Saturday services at the
current church building on Lenox Avenue on Jacksonville's
Westside as much as she used to, but she says she was raised
there and it will always be her "lifetime church."
Her commitment to what members call the "Jacksonville First
Church" was lauded Saturday as part of the church's centennial
celebration services. Although church meetings were held as
early as 1885 and church services as early as 1886, the official
anniversary of the church honored its 1898 reorganization.
Just 35 years after the Seventh-day Adventist Church was
founded, Jacksonville First Seventh-day Adventist purchased its
first fellowship building on the corner of Roselle and Chelsea
streets in Jacksonville. At that time, records show the
congregation had about 35 members.
Today, it has 240 members, and the church has helped members
branch off to form three other churches in Jacksonville. The
first -- Southpoint Seventh-day Adventist, formerly Jacksonville
Southside Seventh-day Adventist -- formed in 1968. The others
are the Orange Cove Seventh-day Adventist, which formed in 1975,
and the Spanish Seventh-day Adventist, which formed in 1986.
Although reminiscing about and celebrating the path the church
has taken over the past 100 years, current Pastor David Moench,
elders, state Seventhday Adventist leaders and Saturday's
centennial celebrants decided to focus on the future of the
"We're trying to do more in the community," said Moench, who
has been at the church for nearly three years. "We're hoping to
do that by expanding our community services programs. Our focus
is a 3-mile radius of the church."
Moench said the church has done research that shows at least
3,000 people live in the immediate area of the church.
"This is a unique church with a unique congregation," said
Elder Harold Flynt, a member who attended the church school from
first through eighth grades. "We are a multicultural church
where working together will broaden our appeal to the
Some of the community services the church plans to expand
include its after-school programs; building a multipurpose
facility; offering parenting, stress management and other
self-help workshops; and increasing its support to other
Seventh-day Adventist churches around the world. …