By: Tony McCray
Talbot Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church at 425 N. Reus St. celebrated its 150th Year Anniversary from Thursday May 12th through Sunday May 15th. The church located on Reus and La Rua Street holds down the northeast corner of the block that is shared with the historical Sunbeam Bread Plant now owned by Reverend John Powell of Truth for Youth.
Known to the older African-American Community as “Big Zion”, Talbot Chapel is the home of Pastor John L. Philpot who wrote for the historical program, “What a blessing it is for me to be serving as the Shepherd of this great church as we celebrate one hundred fifty years of worshipping and praising the Lord according to His will!” Rev. Philpot continues the legacy that began in 1866 when the church was founded as the First A.M.E. Zion Church in the state of Florida. The newly organized church was visited by Bishop Samson Dunbar Talbot in 1868. It is reported that during his visit, Bishop Talbot brought the Holy Spirit through great spiritual meetings and many converts accepted Christ and became members of the church. The members were so thankful for the Bishop’s assistance that they changed the name of the church to Talbot Chapel A.M.E. Church Zion Church.
The Pensacola Voice Newspaper was present at the historical Sunday services at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. Both services embraced the legacy of Talbot Chapel as Pastor Philpot laid down the law for “Tearing Down the Walls” in our community at the morning service. He spoke about how he would go into the park on the corner of Reus St. and Belmont St. and just sit on a park bench and listen to the conversations. Once the men found out who he was, they treated him with great respect, correcting the other men when they spoke profanity around Pastor Philpot. He continued to preach and reach out to those who appeared to need help. Tear down that wall of not helping your fellow man or woman because of what you perceive about them was the message that hit home. Finally he left this message, “Tear down the wall and make everybody accountable for their actions”.
Pastor Philpot spoke about how Talbot Chapel has been tearing down the walls of divisiveness in its immediate neighborhood and beyond. Using the feeding programs, the involvement in the “Back on the Blocks” festivities by bringing the “Wake Up Choir” – an African Choir from Mobile, Alabama, and the Perdido Key Chamber with the Florida Black Chamber joint celebration of memorializing Rosamond Johnson’s memory on Johnson’s Beach was but a few things he orchestrated.
The church is tied to the legacy of Army Private, Rosamond Johnson, who was the first Escambia County resident to die in the Korean War because the mother, Alice Johnson, is still a member of Talbot Chapel. Minister Jessie Turner has been given the responsibility for community outreach and has linked up with Unity in the Family Ministry and built a computer technology training center from scratch. He is also partnering with the HIV and Aids program and testing this June at the church.
The commemoration service at 3:00 pm was led by the electrifying Rev. Anthony Scott, with the high anticipation of the crowd ready to hear Rev. Lester Jacobs, Jr. who ushered Talbot through the drug clean-up of the Belmont and DeVilliers area, the “Weed and Seed” program and the stormy recovery after Hurricane Ivan.
Once again Rev. Jacobs was in the pulpit he had spent 15 years in where he preached the word and sang his favorite gospel numbers. He continued the blessing of the enduring legacy of 150 years of service to the Pensacola and Escambia County community. And the church said, “Amen”!