In the fall of 1981, Alcott and Jasmine Lynch had a vision and yearning to start a Seventh Day Baptist church in South Florida. The early meetings took place in the home of Ralph and Dorothy Easley.
The Easleys, Lynches and other members in the area (who were found through various SDB contacts) worshipped in this home for several months until the spring of 1982. At that time, the church became officially organized and started to worship at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on NW 4th Ave, in North Miami. Dorothy Easley was instrumental in securing that facility as she was the principal of the Lutheran School.
The church was then under the leadership of Rev. Kenneth Van Horn, pastor of the sponsoring Daytona Beach SDB Church. After that, Pastor Thomas Whitney served for a short time, and Pastor William Vis also played the pastoral role. Then, in June 1988, Pastor Andrew Samuels accepted the call to pursue the vision that was cemented a few years prior. This was the early beginnings of the Miami Seventh Day Baptist Church.
On Sabbath August 20, 2011—three decades later at the Stanton Memorial Baptist Church—a congregation with hundreds of people attended two services (in the morning and afternoon) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ongoing existence and ministry of the Miami Seventh Day Baptist Church. Among those present were people connected to the church over the span of 30 years, visitors from other SDB churches, and even local politicians.
Many special moments took place. At one portion of the morning service, the city of Miami declared that day as “Miami Seventh Day Baptist Church Day.” It was an exciting and exhilarating experience to see the church recognized as being a beacon in the community!
The praise team and choir ministered during the entire service with beautiful renditions. Everyone was blessed to have an elaborate visual presentation that provided an insight to the entire history of the church, and also revived old memories. Pastor Joe Samuels blessed the hearts of everyone in the morning service, and Senior Pastor Andrew Samuels closed out the celebration.
Over the course of the 30 years, the church branched out to plant two others: the West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Seventh Day Baptist Churches. The ministry of the Miami church even reached international heights as relationships were built with churches in Haiti, Jamaica, and England with several mission projects.
One goal of the church is still being sought after today—to be a light in the community of the surrounding area. The church has established relationships with various local non-profit organizations that assist the less fortunate in their times of need.
One example of this is our food pantry. Food is donated to the church on a weekly basis, and up to 100 boxes are distributed each week for numerous families. It is a great blessing to be able to serve in this manner. This particular ministry makes the people from the surrounding community aware of the church’s existence, letting them know that they are always welcome and they can make Miami SDB their home.
One of the songs shared on that anniversary Sabbath stated, “We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord. Trusting in his Holy Word, He’s never failed me yet. Oh, we can’t turn around; we’ve come this far by faith.” Without a doubt, the Miami Seventh Day Church has been moving forward by faith.
There is much more to be done. There is the hope to have an even more enormous impact in the community, and to continue to build lasting relationships. These will help to further the work of the Lord. Surely there will be many more great things to be done through this church, because with God, nothing shall be impossible.
To chronicle the events of the church for the past three decades, a history book was written by Pastor Andrew Samuels, “From The Foundation To The Pinnacle.” The book is available for purchase from the church or from the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society. (See the December 2011 Sabbath Recorder for more information.)
by Theo Wilson, Miami, Fla.