Celebrating two years at the helm of Faith Memorial

First Lady Tiffani and Pastor Robert Vinson, Jr.

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist Church found themselves in need of a pastor after the passing of Senior Pastor Bragg L. Turner on Aug. 11, 2014. A search committee was established, and the church began to pray for guidance, asking God for his Holy Spirit to guide them through every step of the way.

After about 15 months, two applicants rose to the top out of the many that applied. The two ministers were asked to give a sermon, and on Feb. 14, 2016, Minister Robert A. Vinson, Jr. was selected by a majority vote under the guidance of the president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Southern Region and the pastor of Destiny Baptist Church of Springhill.

April 17, 2016, Pastor Vinson’s installation service was held at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and this April 22, the congregation celebrated his second anniversary.

“Since Pastor Vinson’s arrival, we have experienced different ways of serving and praising God,” said Sister Joyce Wright. “Pastor didn’t come to change our ministries or programs, but to enhance…We have been truly blessed with his leadership.”

Featured speaker for the morning, Rev. Ricky L. Houston, senior pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Church, gave a rousing sermon anchored on John 15:1-5 and Psalms 1:1-3. He endeavored to show how God established his church so that his Kingdom and those in the Kingdom can be positioned for maximum growth.

Houston mapped out how growth and expansion is to take place, warning that there are places where a person can spend time that will cause their spiritual growth to falter, stunting their spiritual growth.

“They cannot plant themselves in areas that will be counter to their spiritual growth and happiness. You can place a seed in the ground in the wrong place, and it will never germinate,” Houston said, noting what the Psalmist said.

He warned to stay away from those who ridicule, hypocrites and those who have no regard for God and his principles. “Be careful of your associations.”

There is only one place you can stand that will cause you to grow spiritually and flourish, he said. Righteous persons are identified by personal association with the law of the Lord, and the way to develop spiritually requires adherence to God’s Word and will in everyday life.

Faith Memorial

“A place of spiritual growth requires a mental positioning,” he said, adding that this consists of continuous reflection upon the Word of God and applying our lives to God’s eternal truths.

Heading over to the Gospel of John, Houston showed that there is only one source in which a person is able to form and fashion spiritual fruit, and only one individual in whom spiritual growth is founded.

He showed where Jesus said we must abide in him; remain in him and he will remain in us.

“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4, NIV)

Jesus tells them where they are to stand if they desired to grow and bear fruit, informing them that they must stay connected.

“Our connection to Jesus is vital in growing spiritually,” Houston said. “The relationship between the branch and the vine will produce fruit.”

It is not the branches that are producing the fruit, he preached. “Branches require a vine…You have to be connected to Jesus.”

Going back to the Psalmist to close, Houston showed that there is only one source through which our spiritual growth and favorable circumstances flow.

“A godly man is like a tree positioned by the rivers of water. He is positioned in a place through which he receives life and strength,” he said. “They are positioned by the source.”

Houston emphasized that there can be no fruit without roots, saying that too many Christians are more concern about the leaves and the fruit of the tree than they are about the roots, but the roots are the most critical part of the plant.

“Unless Christians spend time in daily prayer and rooted in the Word of God and allow the spirit to feed them, they will wither and die,” he exclaimed.

Wrapping up the morning, Houston reminded all to make sure they position themselves for maximized growth by residing in Jesus who came to redeem and to restore us.

The congregation and its ministries presented Vinson and his family with gifts and expressions of love, from a jar of pickles, his favorite, to artwork and tools. Each one had a special meaning behind them.

“God already predestined today. He saw me come into this world, he spoke to Faith, Faith voted, but God called,” said Vinson. “Thank God.”

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