A HISTORY OF BBIC & SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
A group of Negroes, recently given their freedom from slavery, withdrew from the First Baptist Church of Tampa to organize a church that was given the name of Beulah Baptist Church. Land for a sanctuary was donated to the group lead by Mrs. Fortune-Ransome. The first pastor called to serve was Reverend Elder Hadley.
Reverend Hadley terminated his pastorate of the congregation and was replaced by Reverend Anderson who added several new members to the growing congregation.
Reverend Sinclair came to serve as pastor of Beulah for the next five years. The church was remodeled under his administration.
Reverend N.A. Johnson was called to serve as pastor of this growing congregation. His leadership covered a three year span during which time the church’s membership continued to grow.
Under the pastorate of Reverend L.G. Carro, the original frame structure of the church was moved from its old street location to Harrison Street.
Reverend H. Holman was called and accepted the pastorate of the church. The church membership grew rapidly and extensively, necessitating a renovation of the building to accommodate the large number of worshippers. In the mid part of his pastorate, the church had to undergo a second renovation to serve its growing membership.
It was during this same period that Usher Board #1 was organized. Of great significance to the community, and a tribute to Reverend Holman, was the organization of the People Investment Company under the auspices of the church and the first Negro Investment of the City of Tampa. During the same year, an office building was purchased to house the People’s Investment Company and other business activities.
The membership voted to purchase a new site for the church. Reverend Holman’s pastorate climaxed with the great baptismal service in the Hillsborough River. Reverend J.B. Green became pastor and conducted a 45 day revival.
The church was incorporated as the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church (non-profit).
Elder S.A. Norris became pastor. During his
administration, the Floral Club was organized.
Reverend G.D. Griffin became pastor and increased the membership to a total of 425.
The property located at the corner of Tyler and Pierce Streets was purchased at a cost of $90,000 on which an 11 room modern pastorate was built.
The congregation contracted with the Tri-State Construction Company to erect a new sanctuary on the purchased site at a cost of $85,000.
Reverend H.E. Jones became pastor. He organized the White Robe Choir which later became the first Negro church choir to sing on the radio station in Tampa.
Some years later, this choir became Choir #2.
Reverend W.M. Davis was called as pastor of the church. His first effort was to spearhead a drive to complete the new sanctuary structure.
The Red Circle and Courtesy Clubs were organized.
The congregation moved into the newly completed edifice after many sacrifices had been made by the members through cash donations.
Dedicatory Services of the new church were held from October 10-30. Participating in the services were representatives of national, state and local governments and ministries and supporters of Beulah from throughout the area.
Usher Board #2 was organized.
The Quarterman’s Glee Club was organized.
Reverend W.M. Davis passed away. Reverend G.T. Martin was called to serve as interim pastor. The Youth Choir was organized.
Reverend A. Leon Lowry became the 13th pastor of the church. The Beulah Baptist Church Federal Credit Union was organized. A group of ladies formed the A. Leon Lowry Club. The congregation purchased the Burn’s Memorial Chapel and four and one half adjoining lots on Delaware and Cypress Streets in West Tampa, site of the new church
The Children’s Choir was organized.
The Mattie Jackson Courtesy Club was organized.
A committee was appointed to conduct a
feasibility study to determine whether the old building should be renovated or a new church erected.
Architectural plans and drawings were presented to the congregation for approval.
The congregation launched a sale of bonds to finance construction of a new church on Delaware and Cypress Streets.
Ground breaking ceremonies were held and work was begun on the new church building. The Sanctuary Ladies Auxiliary was organized.
A loan was secured from the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Tampa in April to complete construction of the new church. On Sunday, December 21, Consecration Services for the new church were held.
The Angelic Choir and Junior Usher Board were organized.
The first “ Beulah Day” was launched as a joint financial effort for the men and women of the church.
A Youth Choir was organized and named the A. Leon Lowry Tabernacle Choir. Beulah became the host church for “ Chapel 8,” a televised religious service of the WFLA Broadcasting Station.
The Cornerstone was laid during a very impressive ceremony conducted by the Grand Assembly of the Lily White Association of which Deacon C. Blythe Andrews was Grand President. The Cornerstone was donated by Deacon Andrews. The sermon for this memorable occasion was delivered by Reverend Benjamin Lowry, father or our pastor, Reverend A. Leon Lowry. Pastor Lowry instituted the first massive Retirement Services honoring all members of the church who retired from their various types of jobs.
The outdoor Cross was erected. The Dedicatory Services were held February 24. The property on the southeast corner of Delaware and Cypress was acquired for parking and recreational activities. The parking area on the south and west sides of the Sanctuary were marked off and surfaced.
Beulah’s 1st Pictorial Directory was published. The congregation voted to acquire adjacent property when it became available. The Youth Department was organized for the purpose of studying current problems. The Church participated in the First Church Family Reunion and Unified Church Songfest which included Beulah, Greater Bethel and Faith Temple Churches.
Property at the southwest corner of Gilchrist and Cypress was purchased for future use. The Building Fund contributions were increased with the intent of retiring the church mortgage within 5 years, and entered into a lease (with option to buy) with the Tony Grandoff Enterprises on our old Beulah site property.
The Youth Matrons Auxiliary was organized.
Re-supplied the Sanctuary with bibles and hymnals. A sizeable number of each were donated by the Wilson family.
The Pastor’s Aid Club, Voluntary Youth Program and first church nursery were established.
The “ Sons of Beulah,” a male church support group was organized. Pastor’s 25th Anniversary was observed.
The Church purchased property at the northeast corner of Lemon and Delaware Streets for future use. The name of the church was installed at the base of the cross. The Youth Department published the 1st Edition of its newspaper, The Beulah Bugle.
The mortgage on the Sanctuary was retired and a “Mortgage Burning Service” was held on January 23. Reverend Gardner C. Taylor delivered the sermon for this memorable occasion. Business machines were updated via purchases and donations. The mortgage held by Central Life Insurance Company and Community Federal Savings and Loan Association was retired. New public address and security control systems were installed.
The ‘Sons of Beulah’ and The Male Chorus were reorganized. Four time-controlled security lights were installed.
Additional business machines were purchased and a Tape Ministry was established for the sick and shut-in with the help of the Sanctuary Ladies. The Church accepted a monetary gift of $44,625 from our pastor, Rev. A. Leon Lowry to go toward the construction of our educational center.
The members honored Reverend Lowry on his 30th year as pastor of the church with a banquet. The first ‘Birthday Extravaganza’ was celebrated. The first church calendar was made available for each family.
A contract was signed to build an educational center.
A new piano and new robes were purchased.
The Pastor’s Aid Club honored the Pastor with a birthday dinner. Furniture was purchased for the conference room, narthex and church office and rails were installed at the main entrance of the Sanctuary.
A loan was secured to finance the construction of the educational center from First Florida Bank, N.A. Ground breaking ceremonies were held for the new Educational building.
Construction of the educational building began and a duplex was purchased at the southwest corner of Lemon and Gilchrist. The entire edifice was re-carpeted. The Youth Usher Board was re-organized.
The Church hosted the Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc. Property at the corner of Cypress and North Delaware was purchased. Dedicatory Services and Open House was held for our new education facility which was named “The A. Leon Lowry Sr. Family Services Center.” The Youth Mission was organized and the Young Matrons was renamed the Ladies of Emerald Mission 2. Additional furniture was purchased for the new facility.
The Beulah Baptist Institutional Church Day Care Center was officially opened. Necessary items for the operation of the center, such as furniture, playground equipment, fencing, etc. were purchased.
The Church began a Church Bond Drive. Saturday School was opened. Youth Church was organized.
Karate classes were offered. The Brotherhood of Beulah was re-organized.
A ‘ down stage ’ podium was installed with the assistance of the A. Leon Lowry Club. The Church accepted Rev. Lowry’s retirement plans and selected a search committee for a new pastor.
The Church’s Pictorial Directory was updated. The
cornerstone for the A. Leon Lowry Family Service Center was laid during a very impressive ceremony which was conducted by the Masons. The sermon was delivered by our Pastor, Reverend A. Leon Lowry.
The Church accepted the search committee’s ‘New Pastor’s report and voted on the same. None of the candidates obtained the recommended percentage to call the new Pastor. Thus, a second vote was necessary and another selection was held at a later date. Reverend W. James Favorite accepted the call to become the 14th Pastor of Beulah Baptist Institutional Church. Property at the southeast corner of Lemon and Delaware Avenue was purchased. The Cora Lee Sutton Scholarship Fund was established and pledged financial support.
Reverend W. James Favorite began the ‘Vision Toward the Year 2000’. The vision adopted the idea of Ministry and encourages all boards to do the work of a ministry. The Board of Christian Education was established. A Before and After Care Program was added. A full scale tithing program was introduced through pastoral teaching and preaching. Membership was increased through Evangelism and a total evangelical program with an emphasis on the family was developed.
An emphasis was placed on Evangelism and building Sunday School. Two revivals were scheduled. The Beautification Committee was established. The Young Men and Women of Excellence program began.
The Youth Adult Choir was established and made their debut. Computer School was founded. A new church
directory was published. Beulah’s Brotherhood Ministry regrouped and expanded their activities. The Young Adult Choir was renamed Young Believers. Reverend Favorite ordained four Deacons. The first Church Anniversary banquet held and the first A. Leon Lowry Sr. Day was celebrated.
Beulah’s first female minister, Rev. Delores J. Cain was licensed. The Children’s Choir renamed “The New Generation Choir.” Renovations began in the church and A. Leon Lowry Center. A new organ for the main sanctuary was purchased. A Vision Ministry and The Married Couples Ministry was organized. The 1st Annual Street Festival was held.
Succession Training was established for the purpose of preparing the members for leadership roles in the Church. The first Ordination of Deaconess was held December 10th. The Deacon Board was increased by 3 members. The Singles and the Health Ministries were established. A SAT Training Program was introduced as a result of funding from the Florida Education Fund.
The Church hosted the PNBC Convention in August and coordinated transportation of attendees. The Youth Church for teens was reorganized and experienced tremendous growth within The Children’s Church.
Total Involvement theme was introduced in January.
Fifth Sunday Mortgage Reduction Program introduced to enable early payoff of mortgage on the Education Center. The Pastor initiated the first reunion with First Baptist Church of Tampa since the organization of Beulah Baptist
Institutional Church in 1865.
Unity Sunday was initiated bringing two congregations into one worship hour. The Jamaica Ministry sent a team of twelve to Jamaica to render services to those in need. This effort was supported in part by the Beulah membership.
The parking lot property which had been the site of our old church built in 1931 under Reverend W.M. Davis was sold. The Church received a gift of land from the City of Tampa for the site of our Senior Housing Complex.
Additional land across from the church was purchased to
accommodate our continuous need for additional parking. The Evangelism Ministry developed a follow-up segment. An additional contract was awarded by the Children’s Board to continue our Out of School Time (OST) Program.
The mortgage was burned and work began on our Senior Housing project in November. Our Pastor met with the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) in New York to begin work on our HIV/AIDS Outreach Ministry. Funding was awarded by the United Way to assist with a year-round after school program.
A new roof was installed on the Sanctuary and a new “state-of-the-art” security system was installed in the Lowry Center. The “Home Today” program for First Time Home Buyers was sponsored by Third Federal Savings and Loan. A new Mid-day Bible Study was instituted.
The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program was reinstituted for the 2009 tax season. The Advisory Board for Ministries was established and a new Leadership Training Program was initiated. The new NBLCA-Tampa Affiliate Program was launched.
An emphasis was placed on identifying each member’s talents through the Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
The Voices of Beulah (Young Adults) Choir was organized.
Live streaming of Sunday Services was offered on YouTube and streaming was made available in the Lowry Center primarily for the benefit of our Culinary Ministry.
The Technology Ministry initiated the capability for online contributions (i.e. tithes, offerings, special events). A Fall Festival Community Outreach event was held featuring health screenings, diet and nutrition education, job fair, games, songs, clothing giveaway and an outdoor song and praise service. The Church celebrated 150 years of ‘Faithful Service to God and Community’ with a Grand Banquet, historical events on display and extensive media coverage.
The 1st Annual Deacon/Deaconess Day of Worship and Fellowship was held. The Church’s pictorial directory was updated. The Young Adult Sunday School Class was reorganized. The Evangelism Ministry was restructured to better meet the needs of the community and to increase participation from membership.
The Church purchased two 2 lots from the City of Tampa. The Mother’s Ministry organized a Teen Initiative.