By Charmere N. Gatson
For nearly 27 years, Bishop Paul L. Jones, Sr., and his wife, Co-Pastor Sharon D. Jones, have ministered to the congregation of Freewill Ministries in Pensacola’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
At the start of the ministry, membership was small, but as time progressed, the church membership grew, and worship services and other ministry activities became crowded. “Crowded” only presented a reason to thank God for an influx of people.
Over several years, the Freewill church family patiently waited for the right time to expand in facility size.
The time has finally arrived, and Freewill now has relocated to a new neighborhood as well as into a much larger church edifice. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Bishop Jones, Senior Pastor of the church, whose motto is “a place where shackles are broken.”
Church staff and members worked tirelessly through September and the beginning of October to make the transition from the church’s long-time home on Sawyer Street in Lincoln Park to its new home at 836 W. Michigan Ave., in the Bellview area of town.
On the first Sunday in October, churchgoers traveled by motorcade – and escorted by deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office – from the “old church” to the “new church.”
To top off the transition to the new edifice, a church dedication celebration week took place Wednesday through Friday, October 15-17th, with worship services; continued on Saturday, October 18th, via a community block party; and culminated on Sunday, October 19th. “Receiving, Reciprocity, and Reaping the Harvest” served as the theme for the entire week’s events.
Guest speakers throughout the week included Elder Antonio Jackson of Vision Ministries, Mobile, AL; Pastor Charles Thomas of St. James Missionary Baptist Church; and Minister Isaiah Mickle of Greater Grace Temple Church of God in Christ, Detroit, MI.
Right before the Sunday afternoon dedication service, the Joneses took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially declare the opening of Freewill Ministries’ new sanctuary to the public. Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting, church members, family members, friends, and other guests gathered to praise and thank God for His goodness. Dr. Bernard C. Yates of Zion Hope Primitive Baptist Church brought forth the dedication message and also formally dedicated the church building.
Together as pastor and co-pastor, the Joneses agree that the relocation to the new edifice and a different area of town is not by happenstance. They believe in the promises of God and that His promises have not failed them or their Freewill church family. They are reminded of Psalm 118:23, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (KJV).
Freewill Ministries is moving on by faith to the next level. “We are on fire for the Lord, because we know that He has ‘greater’ things in store for us,” Bishop Jones said. “Feel free to come and visit and celebrate with us in Jesus’ name.”
Service times for Freewill Ministries are as follows: Monday – Prayer at 6:00 p.m.; Wednesday – Mid-day prayer at 11:00 a.m., Bible study at 7:00 p.m.; Sunday – School of Education – 9:15 a.m., Morning Worship – 10:30 a.m. All services are now held at 836 W. Michigan Ave. For more information, please call the church at 850-494-2442.