Churches in the Community





A Spiritual Legacy


During slavery, one of the few environments in which Black people could congregate was for religious purposes.  In those gatherings, which were strictly supervised by whites, slave owners used the scripture to preach the gospel of obedience to their Black slaves.


After the Civil War, those religious environments provided a framework for the newly freed Blacks to congregate and build organizational foundations, as well as physical structures in which to organize and operate.


The same year Lakeland was incorporated the Black settlers, who came to the area two years earlier,  established the first church in the Black community.   It was named St. John's Baptist Church, and established in 1885.  Shortly thereafter, Mt. Pleasant AME and Foster Memorial AME churches were established.


Jim Crow laws and discrimination in Lakeland rose during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The churches in the Black community provided a location for Black children to be educated, for Blacks new area to be welcomed into the community, and for Black members of the community to organize and work together towards common goals.


During Lakeland's first 100 years, the role and significance of the Black churches have risen with the challenges of the times.  Up until around 1910, they were the primary location for educating Black children.  During the Jim Crow, they served as a place for Blacks to gather socially.  And, during the emergence of the civil right movement they serve as a place for Blacks to organize.


This section, Churches in the Community, highlights the churches that were established in Lakeland's Black community in the first 100 years.  Some of the churches are defunct.  However, most of them are still operating today.  Their denominations include Baptist, Holiness-Pentecostal and Methodist.

The information displayed in this section is a small portion of information about the churches established  in Lakeland's Black community during the first 100 years.   We know there is more.  Contact Us if you have information like pictures you don't mind sharing.