Churches in the Community





First Baptist Institutional

Beulah Missionary


Greater New Jerusalem

Greater St Paul Missionary

Harmony Missionary

Macedonia Primitive

Mount Calvary

Mount Sinai

New Mount Zion

Pilgrim Rest Missionary

St Luke's Freewill

Zion Hill

First Baptist Institutional Church


Current Pastor

Prior to 1985: Originally named St. John's Baptist Church, First Baptist Institutional Church is the oldest Black church in Lakeland.  It was established in 1885 and located in the first Black settlement known as Moorehead.


In 1920, the church's name was changed from St. John's Baptist Church to First Baptist Institutional Church.  Two years later, a new church was built on North Dakota Avenue--now Dr. MLK Drive.


From November 1971 to February 1972, church services were held at Rochelle High School Auditorium during while the church was under reconstruction.  After that, worship was held in the basement of the unfinished building.


On August 11, 1974, the first worship in

932 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue   33805

the current sanctuary commenced.  Reverend Paul Jackson delivered his first sermon the following week on August 18th.  Reverend Jackson was pastor in 1985.

Rev Alex Harper Sr



Peter Gant

1884 - 1906

HR Moorehead

1906 - 1916

William Smith

1916 - 1920

HL Stephens

1920 - 1955

JE Harris

1955 -1957

Paul Jackson

1958 -

Picture Gallery

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.