Fight for your blessing


Pastor Karl V. Smith, Sr. delivers the word to his congregation at Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church as the church celebrated its 140th anniversary.

BRAD MCCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:15 p.m.

Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has been a place where generations of blacks in Gainesville have gone to "fight for their blessings" for many years.



Pastor: Rev. Karl V. Smith Sr.
Location: 701 SE 43rd St.
Services: Sunday School begins at 9:30 a.m. and is followed by morning worship at 10:45 a.m. Prayer and praise begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday followed by Bible Study at 7 p.m.
Phone: (352) 376-8846.

And as the church begins its 140th year in existence, Rev. Karl V. Smith Sr., the pastor of the church, told the congregation to get ready to battle the enemy.

Greater Bethel, 701 SE 43rd St., celebrated its 140th anniversary this past weekend. The theme of the celebration was "It Ain't Over Until God Says It's Over."

Smith preached from Genesis 32:24-26 Sunday morning, and the title of his sermon was "I'm Fighting for My Blessing."

"During these 140 years, somebody has been fighting for their blessings," Smith said. "You must learn to start fighting for your blessings and stop trying to fake it."

Smith said Greater Bethel has continued to fight for its blessings even though it has gone through many trials and tribulations.

He said the church is a fighting organism, and he said real churches know how to fight to get the blessings God has for them.

He said it is time for Christians to put on the "armor of God" and fight.

"God has been on Greater Bethel's side," Smith said, urging the congregation to count its blessings instead of focusing on what they don't have.

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win. It ain't over until God says it is over."

He said Genesis tells the story of the beginning of the world, and he said the text he preached from describes how Jacob woke up out of a dream and vowed to fight for God.

He said Jacob learned to deal with God personally, and Smith encouraged parishioners to do the same.

"Sometimes you have to steal away and tell God you are ready to fight for your blessings," Smith said.

"There is serious work to do in kingdom building."

Smith told parishioners that he is only capable of teaching them about God and help them grow spiritually.

"I can't bless nobody," Smith said. "God is the only singular blessor in the world."

Smith also told parishioners that nobody can steal the blessings God has for them.

"What God has for you, it is for you," Smith said.

He also told parishioners not to place time constraints on when God will deliver blessings, and he told them to have the same attitude Jacob had.

"Jacob was willing to fight morning, noon and night to get his blessings," Smith said.

Smith also told parishioners that in order to get blessings from God they have to give blessings to God, and stop moaning, groaning and complaining all the time.

"I dare you to say 'come bless the lord with me,'" Smith said. "Somebody in hear today needs to speak deliverance into your life. You must encourage yourself in the lord."

Smith said Jacob did not let his history determine his destiny, and as he closed his sermon, he told parishioners to join him in the fight for blessings.

"Fight until you get your blessings," Smith shouted as parishioners stood to their feet, clapping, shouting and urging him to keep preaching.

Smith told several people who joined the church Sunday "that once you get into the ring, you have to stay in the ring."

David Young, 27, was on of the people who joined the church, and he said Smith is a big reason why.

"I like the preacher and the way he teaches the Bible, and I like everybody in this church," Young said, adding that he started visiting Greater Bethel a month ago.

"Me and my wife just had our second child, and I want to bring them up in the church."

Alfred Peoples has been a member of Greater Bethel for 40 years, and he said the church is as strong now as it has ever been.

"God has been blessing us for 140 years," Peoples said.

"We started with nothing but God, and we still have God. We have been increasing spiritually, and Reverend Smith has truly been a blessing to this church."

Sunday School begins at 9:30 a.m. and is followed by morning worship at 10:45 a.m. Prayer and praise begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday followed by Bible Study at 7 p.m. The phone number is (352) 376-8846.

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