TALLEVAST — The inscription was simple and elegant, yet so meaningful.
“We are so glad to have you with us today,” the church bulletin read. “Our hearts are overjoyed to be in this 100 year celebration. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye children.”
The Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church congregation exclaimed just that Sunday morning.
Following a weeklong celebration, hundreds of people flocked to the church on the corner of Tallevast Road and 17th Street East to rejoice in its 100 years.
Inside the beige building’s two large wood front doors, the energetic congregation belts hymns, “Amazing Grace” and “Just As I Am” among the many.
Clothed in a purple robe, guest speaker Elder Darryl Hall, of the Pentecostal Church of God in Bradenton, got scores of “Amens” as he preached about church testimony and encouraged everyone to get out and spread the good word.
“We’ve heard about the history of the church, the problem is we are staying inside these four walls,” Hall said. “Get outside, witness and testify!”
Regular attendee Sharod Campbell, 22, shook his head in agreement as he sat in a pew near the back of the sanctuary.
As the morning worship hour neared conclusion, the Rev. Ezell Patterson offered an invitation. Brandon Dunlap and Kenneth Banton obliged and walked down the aisle. Dunlap gave his life to the Lord and Banton rededicated his.
“I just wanted to turn my life around,” said Dunlap, 15.
His grandmother, church member Dr. Juanita Shaw, smiled as she listened to her grandson.
She said she wished the day would never end.
“It shouldn’t stop here! But this is the finale,” she said, still smiling.
“It’s been a very happy, blessed and spiritual day.”
Following the service, the congregation enjoyed food — ribs, rice and cake — in the fellowship hall.
The church celebrat- ed throughout the pre- vious week with guest ministers leading nightly services.
On Saturday, a service eatured choirs, soloists, liturgical dance and worship.
Church clerk Virginia Massie, 71, was one of the church’s 150 members in attendance Sunday.
The church, she said, is the most important thing in her life.
And, as noted by the inscription in the church bulletin, it was important to the congregation, too.
“Enjoy yourself as we praise and worship our God. Love and laughter is good for the soul so let your jobs be known. Clap your hands and stomp your feet to the beat. . . . Eternal blessings to each and everyone of you.”