Prayers celebrates building

The Prayers by Faith Family Ministries praise team, Garment of Praise, performs during the Homecoming and Land Marker Presentation, which honored the history of the building that formerly housed Mount Carmel Baptist Church and now is the sanctuary of Prayers by Faith.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:15 p.m.

The Garment of Praise praise team from Prayers by Faith Family Ministries' sang "Still Here" by the Williams Brothers just before the guest speaker delivered a powerful and uplifting sermon about how God has kept black people and black institutions alive and sane in the U.S., despite tremendous odds and hardships.



Pastor: Pastor Gerard Duncan.
Location: 429 NW 4th St.
Services: Sunday school is 10 a.m., followed by morning worship at 11 a.m. Bible study is 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Phone: 352-283-2185.

The Rev. Dr. Mack King Carter, pastor emeritus at New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, was the guest speaker Friday night at Prayers by Faith during a service that was part of a four-day Homecoming and Land Marker Presentation for Mount Carmel and Pleasant Hill Baptist churches.

The building that Prayers by Faith occupies at 429 NW 4th St. housed Mount Carmel from 1944-1984 and Pleasant Hill from 1987-2011. Prayers by Faith began having services in the building in 2011.

The Rev. Kevin Thorpe, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, presided over the service, and Sherry Wingate, a member of Mount Carmel, read the history of Mount Carmel and Pleasant Hill.

Carter began his sermon by thanking God for giving the Gainesville community the services of the Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Wright Sr., pastor emeritus of Mount Carmel. Wright became the pastor of Mount Carmel in 1962 when it was located in the building that Prayers by Faith now occupies. He retired as pastor of the church in 2006, years after the church built its current campus at 2505 NE 8th Ave.

"You all ought to thank God for him, and when you see him, buy him lunch or lay a few dollars on him because he has done all of that and more for a lot of you," Carter said. "I love to see God use people and bless them to be a blessing to others as he has done for Dr. Wright."

Pastor Gerard Duncan of Prayers by Faith said the event was held to celebrate the fact that the building has been designated as a historical site by the state of Florida.

"We were told that it normally takes three months to one year to get a landmarker designation, but it only took us three weeks," said Duncan, adding that the process was shortened because the history of the building as a key meeting place for Gainesville's black community and other supporters of the civil rights movement in the 1960s was well documented.

He said that documentation, along with the help of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and the special collections department at George Smathers Library, both at the University of Florida, readily proved the worthiness of the building as a historical landmarker.

Duncan said he received word on June 11 that the landmarker was approved. He said it will be placed on the site within six to eight weeks. After that, he said he plans to work on turning the building into a black history museum.

"It is going to take a lot of hard work from the entire community," Duncan said.

The service was held on the second floor sanctuary of the two-story red-brick building located on the southeast corner of the intersection of NW 5th Avenue and 4th Street.

Wright was in attendance, as well as the Rev. Dr. W.G. Mayberry, pastor of Pleasant Hill, which now has services at 2611 NW 68th Ave. Mayberry preached on Thursday night and Wright was the speaker on Sunday morning.

Carter said although the significance of the building is well-known by older blacks, he said it is imperative that young blacks in Gainesville know the history of the building as well, in addition to being educated about the important roles people of African descent have played in the history of the world.

Carter preached about the role Africans played in the early Christian church, before talking about how God has kept black people throughout harsh times in the U.S., from slavery until today.

"God has a way of getting things done," said Carter at the end of his sermon, while humming a little bit to whet the appetite of parishioners waiting to hear him "hoop" like only old-school baptist preachers can. "Ain't God alright!"

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