When the Hialeah Church of Christ met for worship for the first time 39 years ago in its beautiful new sanctuary at 7700 W. 20th Ave., over 500 people were in attendance. Willie Hamblen was the minister at the time and preached the first sermon.
Last Sunday as the congregation and friends said farewell to its home at three final worship services in the sanctuary, about 150 people were in attendance. Hamblen was invited back to preach the final sermon.
The fact that Sunday's congregation numbered less than half the size of the congregation on that first Sunday is a sign of the times, said Morris B. Legg, a member of the church.
"When we built this church, we had grand visions for the church; we were a very vibrant congregation back then," he said.
But as the years passed, the congregation grew older and more work was needed to be done on the building than the congregation was financially or physically able to do. "It was easier to sell and find another property to fit our needs," Legg said.
The Hialeah Church of Christ began in 1948 under a palm tree in the Bennie Babcock Park on East Fourth Avenue in Hialeah. Later the congregation met at the Hialeah City Hall until moving to its original home at 1094 E. Fourth Ave., where it met for 25 years before moving to the location at 7700 W. 20th Ave.
Legg said over the past nearly 40 years, there have been many changes — some good and others not so good — such as deaths, members moving away, and others falling away.
"The building has also changed. It has suffered, like some of the older members, from years of service and weather. But the good outnumber the bad. We've had gospel meetings, vacation Bible schools, hundreds of baptisms, beautiful wedding showers, birthday parties and fellowships," he said.
In addition to the building being used by the church, Legg said it has served as home for Atlantic Christian School, Atlantic International Bible Institute (a preacher training school) a home for Spanish and Chinese congregations and the homes and office for Christian Homes for Children.
The property has already been sold and will become the Youth Co-op Charter School. "We have already paid on a new property," Legg said.
Meanwhile, until its new permanent home is built, the church will continue with services on Sundays and Wednesday nights at the Don Shula Hotel at 6842 Main St. in Miami Lakes.
Although there was a lot of remembering the old times at the church, it was not a sad occasion. A bright spot was that Pastor Robert Ball, the congregation's current spiritual leader, was honored Sunday for his 20 years of service to the church.Banker/preacher
A warm Neighbors in Religion salute to the Rev. Raymond Baker, who serves as pastor of El Bethel Tabernacle in Miami Gardens. Baker, who also is a banker with Great Florida Bank and works as the bank's Broward Market Lead, overseeing eight branches, still finds the time to serve as his brothers' keeper.
El Bethel Tabernacle's membership is made up of low and moderate income Miami Gardens residents. In order to improve the lives of those in his community and church, Baker provides free financial literacy training and youth mentorship, along with ample doses of spiritual guidance.
In addition to preaching the Word, Baker also teaches his members the importance of having good credit, how to achieve home ownership, saving for retirement and other basic banking concepts.God’s wonders
Miami Springs Baptist Church at 378 Westward Dr., will conduct "Amazing Wonders Aviation: Encountering God's Awesome Power for Vacation Bible School," from 6 to 9 p.m., July 23 through July 27 at the church.
The free event is open to children ages 4 - 12. The program will include Bible stories, games and snacks, and children will be taught about God's "awesome power made visible through some of His greatest natural wonders, such as the Paricutin Volcano, Victoria Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Matterhorn and the Great Barrier Reef."
Children in the community are invited to come in for fun and excitement. For more information call the church at 305-888-1538 or visit the church's web site at www.miamispringsbaptist.org
.All things are possible...
God's Place 4 Kids at Palm Springs United Methodist Church at 5700 W.12th Ave. in Hialeah, will have its annual Vacation Bible School from 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 6 through Aug. 10 at the church. The theme is "Sky!"
Children attending the VBS will be taught that "All things are possible through God" (from Mark 10:27).
Children will also be taught songs, dance, crafts, Bible stories, faith building games, and snacks.
In addition, God's Place 4 Kids will open a new classroom for preschoolers. Parents are invited to the open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 28, to check out the facilities and to meet the teachers.
The preschool has a small teacher-student ratio and is open to children ages 2 1/2 to 5. the hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The curriculum, Wee Learn, allows the children to grow through play and hands-on activities. All government programs are accepted and children will be given free breakfast, lunch and snacks through the U.S. Child's Food Program.
The God's Place 4 Kids also offers an aftercare program which helps children with homework, and provide snacks and fun activities from 2 to 6:30 p.m. to children ages 3 to 11 years. The program is open on Miami-Dade County teacher workdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the VBS and the preschool program call Kathy Bergerson, school director at 305-822-1395 or send an email to: email@example.com.Story hour
Beth David Congregation's Gordon Schools and the PJ Library Story Hour, invites parents to bring their children to a children's storytelling and activities event at 10:30 a.m. on July 22, at Books & Books in Coral Gables, 265 Aragon Ave.
Melissa Shub, a teacher at The Gordon Schools' Early Childhood Center, will read Noah's Bark
a play on Noah's Ark, by Stephen Krensky.
The book teaches children about kindness to animals and Noah's Ark.
Children attending will also make a fun, animal-themed project.
For more information call Lonni Romirowsky, director of Marketing and Communications at Beth David, 305-854-3911, ext. 200.Fund-raiser
The happenings at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will include the annual organ fundraiser, featuring Matthew Steynor, at 6 p.m. on July 29 at the cathedral, 464 NE 16th St. the recital will coincide with the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and will feature music for a variety of athletic occasions. A reception will follow.
Admission is free to members and friends of the community who have donated a minimum of $200 to the organ restoration effort. For all others, tickets are now on sale from the Cathedral Gift Shoppe by calling 305-789-0074.
Also, the cathedral announces the next meeting of the Young Adults Ministry of the Diocese of Southeast Florida , to be from 7 to 10 p.m. at Metro Bistro, 7010 Biscayne Blvd. For more information email Daniel Ledo at firstname.lastname@example.org.