O the love, the mercy, and the goodness of God: how sweet, how measureless, and how boundless toward the Apostolic Faith Church in Orlando, Florida! When we look back and recall to our minds, we can say like Jeremiah of old that, indeed, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness”(Lamentations 3:22-23).
We are grateful that the Orlando church building was wearing a new look in every sense at the time of its rededication. We are certain that God has also used the occasion to rededicate the vessels—individual members—for greater exploits for His glory.
The Lord gave the Orlando congregation their current location in March of 2008. Initially, the group faced some challenges, including that financing was needed to acquire and rezone the property, and convert the house to a church. God faithfully provided the resources and helped in the renovation and repurposing of the building, and now despite these challenges, it is an edifying sanctuary. Although the congregation is small, the Lord’s provisions made it possible to pay off the mortgage within thirteen years instead of thirty. The final payment was made in October 2021. In honor to God and in recognition of His providence, Glory Thomas, who pastors the church, deemed it wise to hold a rededication service to commemorate the congregation’s full ownership of the building. Conversations were had with the leadership at the Portland headquarters, and planning and invitations commenced for special meetings that would include a rededication service.
The Orlando special meetings started on Wednesday, February 16, and culminated in the building rededication service on Sunday, February 20.
The first day of the event started with congregational songs and praises to God for His goodness and mercies. This was followed by several testimonies to the power of the Lord for personal deliverances. Rebekah Ashe, the leader of our Key West, Florida, church preached from 2 Chronicles 6 and 7. She described the humility of King Solomon and the graciousness of God. When the king knelt humbly and prayed, the Lord heard from Heaven and accepted his prayer by sending holy fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice laid on the altar. Not only did Godsend fire from Heaven, but His glory filled the Temple so much so that the priests could not continue in their duties. Sister Rebekah reminded those gathered that no matter one’s state in life, God requires humility to enter into His holy presence. Thanksgiving, worship, and intercession will be reckoned by God when one approaches Him in reverence and humility.
God showed up again on the second day, Thursday. The congregation was blessed by testimonies and worship songs that connected hearts to Heaven. One key testimony came from Brother Glory, who shared about a Jewish man who visited the Orlando church and requested to pay tithes. Brother Glory directed him to the tithe box, and in seeing the “small” envelopes allocated to tithes, the man asked for a larger one. Unbeknownst to Brother Glory, the Lord had led this man to put thousands of dollars into the Orlando tithe box. Only God can do that! It was not until the tithes and offerings were later gathered that the envelope filled with hundred dollar bills was retrieved. It turned out that this money came right in time for the renovations of the church as needed before the zoning permit expired. After the testimonies, Josephine McElveen, the East Coast District Superintendent, reminded the group about God’s favor and enjoined them to prioritize God in all that they do.
On Friday, after several music renditions that lifted souls to Heaven, the worship leader led in chain testimonies where the one who testifies calls on the next person to testify. The saints testified of the saving grace and the goodness of God in their lives. Verena Byrd-McElroy of Fort Worth, Texas, brought the message, which centered on the key verse, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1). She enjoined the brethren to rededicate themselves to God, just as the church building was being rededicated for God’s use. The Lord calls Christians to live for His glory, by upholding a sharp contrast between how they live and how the world wants them to live. She encouraged the congregation to rededicate and consecrate their lives to God to ensure the fire in their souls remains as fervent as when they were first saved. One cannot be effective for the Lord when the line between the Christian walk and the world is blurred. The sermon ended with a call to prayer.
The next morning, youth leaders of the congregations on the East Coast met for a summit to re-equip and plan for regional youth activities. The highlights from the summit included discussions on apologetics and how Christian youths and their leaders could navigate current trends while shining Christ’s light in post-Christian communities. The summit leaders enjoined attendees to return to God for a spiritual reset to keep their visions focused on godliness and holiness in this present world.
In the evening, a concert was held with an unusual format. Musical numbers were interspersed with congregational singing and short testimonies by the soloists of how the chosen song had blessed them. One highlight was hearing a few songs in languages other than English. One sister sang “The Love of God” in Creole, another sang in Spanish, and an ensemble sang “Ope Lo Ye O,” which is “You Are Worthy” in the Yoruba language. The night also featured instrumental and vocal music from representatives of the branch churches in Atlanta, Georgia; Brooklyn and Oceanside, New York; Houston, Texas; Rocky Mountain, North Carolina; and Washington, D.C.
On Sunday, February 20, the church building was filled with worshipers and out-of-town brethren who were eager to celebrate with Brother Glory and the Orlando saints at their rededication service. Additional seating had to be set up outside of the sanctuary for an overflow of attendees. Everyone sang joyfully to the glory and goodness of God.
Brother Glory welcomed everyone and shared briefly about the grace of God upon the Orlando congregation in leading many to bless their efforts and make the building renovation possible. He said the Lord used extraordinary circumstances to help the congregation obtain a permit to rezone the residential building they had purchased into what is now their sanctuary. He also shared about the financial, physical, and spiritual blessings the Lord sent their way when they needed it most. His wife, Carmen, also spoke, expressing her gratitude for God’s grace throughout her husband’s ministry. Then Debbie Lee of Portland, Oregon, testified to how the love and grace of God prepared her for the role she would later take in supporting her husband in leading the worldwide Apostolic Faith work.
The service continued with an Orlando ensemble singing “We’ve Come this Far by Faith” and a soloist singing “Bless this House.” This was followed by a vocal rendition of “Come, Holy Spirit.” Then Superintendent General Darrel Lee gave the dedicatory message, taking his text from Daniel1:8. He said King Nebuchadnezzar intended to repurpose Daniel and his friends to serve Babylonian interests despite their Jewish upbringing, but the young men had a solid purpose to live for the glory of God. In contrast, the property in Orlando was originally purposed as a three-bedroom house, but was converted and repurposed for God’s use and now serves as His sanctuary. He reminded the group that their mission and goal as individuals should be to ensure that their lives are purposed, or repurposed, to serve and glorify the God of Heaven.
The rededication service commenced at 10:00 a.m. and ended at about noon. Indeed, God had prepared this time to remind us that His goodness and His mercy endure forever! He is merciful and faithful to those who call upon Him and humble themselves before His throne. Glory be to God for a successful rededication.