Celebration in white

BY RAVEN JOY Shonel, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Members of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church gathered last Fri., Nov. 13 to celebrate 18 years of leadership under Pastor Dr. John A. Evans.

All dressed in white in the Upper Room of “The Ship,” the congregation fellowshipped, listened to music, watched a fashion show that rivaled the Vogue-Esquire Fashion Show that took place at the Palladium last Sunday, and of course, enjoyed delectable delights.

So why is Friendship referred to as The Ship?

Ship is an acronym for S=Serving and Saving H= Helping and Healing I=Inspiring and Instructing P= Praying and Praising, which are all a part of their mission.

Evans has been at the helm for 18 years, but he has been preaching the gospel for the last 38 years. His crew couldn’t stop raving about their captain.

“He has been the best pastor I have ever had…he’s so down to earth and he doesn’t look over anybody.  But I tell you one thing I found about my pastor, don’t tell pastor nothing that you don’t want somebody else to know ‘cause he can’t hold water,” said church mother Susie Fulton to a room full of laughter.

She ended her speech by saying that Evans gives the Word straight from God and that she is so grateful to him.

Church mother Mary Moore thanked Evans and the first family for 18 years of love, dedication, commitment and patience.

“Do y’all know you have a good pastor,” asked Sheila Perry, who organized the celebration. “We keep saying things like, ‘We love our pastor.’ But love is always an action word, so this is why we had this white celebration because we put love into action.”

Perry explained that the committee decided to do something out-of-the box this year and not a traditional program. Since it’s called The Ship, they decided to have a nautical theme. Instead of having an emcee they had a navigator, which was James L. Gillians who led the congregation through uncharted territory.

Before the man of the hour took to the microphone, his proud, big brother from Ohio had a few words to say about his little brother, whom he helped raise.

“I believe you have a great pastor as well. I know I’m prejudiced but I can’t help it, and I’m not going to apologize,” William made sure to add that he loves being spoiled by the congregation every time he’s in town.

Now when Pastor Evans took to the microphone, the room went wild. In a humble spirit, he thanked God and his congregation for such a memorable evening.

“They call it Friday the 13th and most people are scared of this day, but we are deliciously pleased to be in the house of the Lord tonight,” said Evans. He praised his congregation for pulling off the celebration and recognized each person for their part.

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