The church, which is geared toward first responders, celebrated its first anniversary over the weekend with two days of fellowship, song and worship.
First Call proved over the weekend that the coronavirus may not be welcome in God’s house, but people certainly are.
The church celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 14 and 15 with a big party featuring live music by the New Floridians, lots of food and encouragement to stay faithful and walk not in fear during this turbulent time in history.
“Especially during the time of the season right now, during this time in our country where so many people are afraid, this is a place of faith — not of fear,” Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks said. “That’s why we’re going… we keep moving forward and walk by faith, not in fear, because God is the calm in the midst of our chaos.”
The celebration started at 6 p.m. March 14 and ran until 8 p.m., then picked back up at 10 a.m. Sunday morning with another special service and music. More than 100 people attended the celebrations. At the Sunday morning service, local police, fire and other agencies were recognized. Some were also honored with Shield of Excellence awards and thanked for their service to the community.
Formerly Sydney Baptist Church, which opened in 1909, First Call was born out of Middlebrooks’ desire to reach out to a demographic he felt was unintentionally underserved by typical churches: first responders. Because those in the military, police force, fire departments, security and emergency medical services go through things most civilians could never relate to, Middlebrooks felt it important to give them not only somewhere to go, but a place where they have a big, strong network of people who can actually relate to them and their experiences. The church started with a congregation of 13 and has expanded to around 90, Middlebrooks said. It’s a mix of first responders, their families and supporters.
“The culture here is the fact that these are warriors that are seeking God’s word so that they can be a light of God in the midst of very, very dark places,” Middlebrooks said.
The church and its adjacent office have also become the home base for Chaplaincy Care Inc., which Middlebrooks launched in 2017 to train those interested in becoming chaplains. Middlebrooks himself, who served 26 years in the United States Army, is a longtime chaplain and still actively provides his services wherever he’s called upon. The fellowship hall is also a “spiritual substation” for first responders who need a place to go decompress, eat, drink coffee, work remotely, gather supplies to give out as needed or whatever they wish at any time of the day or night.
“Too many times, our men and women have targets on our back,” Middlebrooks said. “We want to provide a safe place for them to be able to come to do their work, to eat and to know that we’re going to take care of them one way or another.”
First Call has plans to expand its programming in marriage enrichment and relationship dynamics, stress management, chaplaincy counseling, a ladies’ ministry and more, as well as to beef up its technology and online presence for greater outreach.
“We’re very thankful for what God has done in the life of First Call in one year,” Middlebrooks said. “I can’t wait to see what He’s about to do in the second.”
SCHEDULE OF SERVICES
9:00 First Fellowship coffee
10:30 Light breakfast and connection
11:00 Life Teams
6:30 Life Teams (children to youth)
Visit firstcallsbc.com for more information.