Centennial Celebration Much Has Changed for Jacksonville First Seventh-Day Adventist Church since It Was Chartered in 1898 -- New Locations and a Membership That Has Swelled from 35 to 240 -- and the Church Is Excited about the Future

Article excerpt

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. …


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