Having therefore obtained help from God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come. Acts 26:22
We are elated when we begin to reminiscence our past, how mountainous obstacles were removed by the hand of God. By His grace, we have received the victory! TESTED, TRIED, STILL STANDING!
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) The foundation of our church is prayer. In the year of our Lord, 1962, Missionary Catherine McNair and her children began having prayer in her home. The following year, our pastor, Minister Gentle Groover was sent to establish a church in Jacksonville.
The work began in a small building on Cord Avenue. After a couple of intermediary moves (1964 – Moncrief Road; 1966 – West 16th Street), in 1969, we began worshipping in a house on 26th Street and Chase Avenue. After extensive repairs and renovations, the church at 1224 West 26th Street gained its present beauty in 1981.
The Lord continued to add to the church—filling souls with the Precious Gift of the Holy Ghost. Many were saying “yes” to the Holy Command of water baptism in Jesus Name. Particularly notable was that between May 1973 and March 1983, 333 souls were baptized in water. Even more outstanding was that between May 1982 and November 1982, 66 souls received their baptism in Jesus Name. Because of these blessings, our Pastor saw the urgent need to seek another place of “Refuge”.
An attempt was made to purchase the church that was across Rowe Avenue—Calvary Baptist. Meanwhile, we purchased the current property which was intended for parking in conjunction with the Church building. To our dismay, but God’s Divine Providence, Calvary was demolished and replaced with a new Walgreens!
Following the leading of the Lord, Bishop Groover and his administrative staff began designing the new Edifice. Ground Breaking Services were held in July of 1995. In December 1995, Bishop Groover gave the prophecy that problematic situations would be “Fixed in ’96”.
After crossing many civil and political hurdles, the building permits were finally issued. The foundation was laid in December 1996 (FIXED). At Watch Night Service of the same year, Bishop Groover once again prophesied that what “God Fixed in ‘96”, would be “Manifested in ‘97”. By April of 1997, our beautiful cathedral began to take shape (MANIFESTED). The major brick veneer was completed under the direction of Bishop (District Elder) Anderson Williams. However, further construction was halted after Bishop Groover discovered that the builder of his own accord “value-engineered” the design of Temple, entirely deleting the balcony and shortening the overall dimensions of the building.
Determined to pull down strong holds, Bishop Groover, Apostle (Bishop) Walter Jackson, and Deacon Theodore McBride went to work on redesigning the balcony to compensate for the smaller structure. Construction resumed in December 1997 and many errors were detected and corrected. The brothers went to work and installed the balcony. At Watch Night Service in 1997, Pastor Groover again spoke the prophetic word that 1998 would be the Year of New Beginnings. As the Lord added to the physical structure, He continued to send “gifts from heaven”. Praise the Lord! Just 5 months after the construction resumed, the building was completed!
The first service in the new building was held on Sunday, May 31, 1998 and the Greater Refuge Temple was dedicated to the Lord on Saturday, June 6, 1998. Chief Apostle William Bonner gave the Dedicatory Address and many dignitaries were in attendance including, Apostle Henry Ross, City Officials, International Department Heads and saints of the Most High God.
In August 1998, the Lord called Bishop Groover’s dear friend and mentor, Apostle Henry Ross, to glory. At that time, he assumed pastorage of the Greater Refuge Temple in Lakeland.
Since January 2000, we have consistently maintained our weekly telecast which is produced and edited in-house. Having made the conscious decision not to solicit funds from the viewing audience, this evangelistic tool has been fully funded from within the congregation. In addition, tremendous financial contributions have been made toward other ministries and missions in the United States and abroad. On January 30, 2010, we celebrated an awesome milestone…the burning of the Temple’s Mortgage!
Since the local assembly began fellowshipping on Rowe Avenue, thousands of souls have been baptized in water in Jesus Name and hundreds have confessed the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
Pastors, thank you for your leadership as we embark upon our next challenge.We give thanks to the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, Which is and Which was, and Which is to come, The Almighty: • Our Peace: Jehovah-Shalom (Judges 6:24) • Our Healer: Jehovah-Rapha (Exodus 15:26) • Our God Ever Present: Jehovah-Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35) • Our Provider: Jehovah-Jireh (Genesis 22:8-14) • Our Shepherd: Jehovah-Rohi (Psalms 23:1) • Our Strength: Jehovah-Tsur (Exodus 15:2) • Our Righteousness: Jehovah-Tsidkenue (Jeremiah 23:6) • Our Most High God: Jehovah-Elyon (Psalms 7:17) • Our Victory: Jehovah-Nissi (Exodus 17:15) • Our Eternal Creator: Jehovah-Elohim (Genesis 2:4)