It was on April 1, 1879 when a small group of “earnest Christian pioneers” -- all white citizens -- met to form the first church in Daytona, then a town with approximately 300 persons. There were 19 men and women present at that spirited meeting. The Rev. C.M. Bingham became the first pastor of First Congregational Church in 1880.
The first church building was completed in downtown Daytona Beach during the summer of 1891. The church building was dedicated on Sunday, January 6, 1895, and the congregation became self-supporting in 1897.
As the congregation grew and prospered, its buildings were always centered around the downtown area. Eventually, around 1965, an anonymous donor gave 2-1/2 acres of land at the corner of Seneca and Cypress streets with the understanding that a new church would be built there. In 1966, new buildings were completed and the congregation relocated. The decision to move caused a split in the congregation.
The congregation, which had been all-white in its racial composition, gradually became an African-American church through the process of racial transition in the neighborhood surrounding the church facility. This transition occurred during the 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1965 the congregation consisted of 245 members. In December 1978 there were about 74 active members. During the same time, the church school went from 100 to about 20. Consequently, the congregation was not pleased with the situation it was in. Members wanted to continue at the Cypress Street location as First Congregational Church of Daytona Beach. To that end the congregation voted (42 to 6) on December 3, 1978, the proposal that follows:
“The First Congregational Church of Daytona Beach, recognizing that it is located in a neighborhood in transition and desiring to preserve its rich heritage as a Congregational Church and is the first church established in this city, commits its human and material resources as a Church of Jesus Christ to minister and to meet the needs of the people in the community surrounding its facilities, to nurture and serve its faithful members and to reach out in ministry to its neighbors throughout the world."
“To fulfill this commitment, the church will implement improved activities and programs designed to attract, assimilate and motivate to Christian ministry existing members and significant numbers of persons who live in the adjacent community. Simultaneously, particular attention will be given to the spiritual needs and growth of all the persons who come within our sphere of influence."
“For the purposes indicated the church will, as soon as possible, call a black Senior Pastor under a five-year agreement with the United Church of Christ Board for Homeland Ministries and the Florida Conference of the UCC. The agreement includes a leadership subsidy for the entire period and a loan to make specific repairs to our buildings. The total costs of the new pastor's services for the first twelve months will be born by a leadership subsidy provided by the UCBHM and the Florida Conference.”
It was near the end of November 1979 when the Rev. Glen C. Misick accepted the call to become the first black minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ. When he arrived, he found 20 white and four black members, all of whom felt wounded by the changes First Congregational had gone through. During his pastorate, Rev. Misick spent a lot of time healing and ministering to his members’ needs and getting the church together administratively – for church records had been destroyed. And, of course, he recruited new members and became involved in the community. But many left when the worship service ceased to be a spectator service and became a participatory black worship experience. Eventually Rev. Misick accepted a call to pastor a church in San Francisco.
The Rev Amos Barrs served as interim pastor until the congregation voted to call the Rev. G. Wesley Raney of Newport News, Va., to serve as the church’s pastor in February 1985. Upon arriving, Rev. Raney discovered the church had approximately 18 to 20 active members. He quickly sought to increase the church’s membership and visibility in the community. Early on during his pastorate, Rev. Raney realized that First Congregational had an identity problem in the black community because of its name and the denomination to which it belonged. As a result, the church’s name was changed to Tubman-King Community Church.
Lionel Earl, George Tye, Rowland Fulton and John Rutledge were the first deacons ordained by Rev. Raney. Many new ministries and auxiliaries were formed including the Sisters United Fellowship and Brothers United Fellowship. The first “Love Concert,” with the Sounds of Faith and the Voices of Thunder under the direction of Minister of Music Edwin Coffey, was performed in February 1986. Ron Dickens and Arnold Postell were ordained as deacons in 1989. Membership increased greatly and the church flourished under his leadership. Rev. Raney resigned as pastor to accept a call in Raleigh, N.C., in May 1991.
Rev. Barrs, who continued his service as an associate pastor at Tubman-King under Rev. Raney, served another interimship until the Rev. Ernest Hamlin was called as senior pastor in 1992. Several new endeavors were undertaken during his brief tenure here including Women’s History celebrations, formation of Girl Scout Troops and the Volunteer Tax Assistance program. Rev. Hamlin resigned in October, 1993.
The congregation voted to call the Rev. John T. Long, III as pastor in 1994. Rev. Long served for more than 21 years as its minister, actively striving to win more souls to Christ, emphasizing worship, promoting spiritual learning and serving in the community. Pastor Long was beloved for his pastoral care skills toward his flock. The church accepted his resignation in June 2016.
The Rev. Nathaniel Anderson served as interim pastor from July 2016 until December 2017. It was during Rev. Anderson's tenure that a new air conditioning system and sound system were installed.
The Rev. Dr. M.L. Kaufman was called as senior pastor during a vote of the congregation in September 2017. Rev. Kaufman, who comes to us from Nicey Grove Baptist Church in Marshville, N.C., preached his first sermon on Sunday, January 7, 2018. We look forward with great anticipation to his ministry as we welcome Rev. Kaufman and his wife, Ivy, to the Daytona Beach community.
What is the lesson that our history taught us? That a handful of dedicated and committed Christians who have kept the faith can build a church. We have learned that God can use the very best intentions or failed methods and even unjust acts for the furtherance of His own Kingdom here on Earth.
With special acknowledgments to the Rev. Glen C. Misick and Sarah Jackson
Rev. Charles Mortimer Bingham (October 1, 1881 – 1903)
Rev. B. F. Marsh (1903 – 1913)
Rev. W. J. Drew (1913 – 1917)
Rev. Watson L. Lewis (February 1, 1917 – 1926)
Rev. C. Arthur Lincoln (February 1, 1926 – October 1935)
Rev. Albert A. Tyembert (February 9, 1935 – June 15, 1943)
Rev. George W. Penn (September 1, 1943 – 1947)
Rev. Emanuel Hedgebeth (August 3, 1947 – May 1949)
Rev. Ernest Collins (November, 1949 – May1953)
Rev. Rankin L. Shrewsberry (October 1, 1953 – October 31, 1962)
Rev. Irvin Cheney, Jr. (January 1, 1962 – January 1, 1967)
Rev. William R. Wolf (April 1967 – July 1968)
Rev. Harold F. Symons (April 1968 -- April 1979)
Rev. Glen C. Misick (December 2, 1979 – May 1985)
Rev. G. Wesley Raney III (May 1985 – May 1991)
Rev. Ernest Hamlin (1992 – October 1993)
Rev. John Long III (1994 – June 2016)
Rev. Dr. M.L. Kaufman (January 7, 2018 - Present)
* – Deceased
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