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Committed to Downtown

To celebrate FSBC's 175th anniversary, our May 21st, 2023 worship service comprised of four different meditations from minister and church members alike. Below is part two of our anniversary celebration from our Church Council Chair, Jack Ferguson.

175 years, old if only this building could talk- what would she say?

“Man, after looking at the birthday cake in front of the podium I hope they

don’t burn me down with all those candles!”

I am a downtown church.

I have seen a lot in 175 years: Civil War, World War I & II, Korean and Vietnam

Wars, Middle East conflicts. The Spanish Flu and Covid. The Great Depression.

I have seen thriving neighborhoods all around me and watched as urban decay

slowly took them away. Buildings torn down, people leaving, vacant blocks all

around me. But I stayed, I waited, I persevered, and I hoped. And I ministered.

I saw Herb Johnston and his sidekick Taylor Ridgewell play hooky from church at

the nearby drug store, only to be hauled back by the deacons. I watched with

glee as John Lumpkin sailed a paper airplane from the balcony during one of his

father’s sermons. The deeds of Evan Van Leeuwen are legend, and of Jack

Ferguson… we will say no more.

I am a downtown church.

I provided meals during the Depression to those in need- there are stories of

people coming to my small but efficient kitchen with their buckets to get a thick

gruel which they took home to mix with water to make a meal. And I still

provide meals to those in need. I remember weddings- I remember funerals. I

see couples who met within my walls during their youth and went on to join in

committed relationships.

But this is not a history lesson- I am far from through!

I used my land for a Baptist Book store and then for a childcare center. I use it

now as a garden to beautify my community, to enrich lives and to provide a

place of comfort and peace for those in need of an Eden in the middle of

Norfolk. People grow vegetables for sustenance and flowers for their souls.

I am a downtown church.

My walls and floors are sturdy- I have “good bones” as they say. During the

week they ring with the sounds of life. Jazz on Mondays, string music on

Tuesdays, the beat of drums on Sunday. I have children and their parents for

play days, senior citizens for classes in computer skills, and many other groups

that use my halls and rooms.

I serve meals to those in need and provide shelter. I am a venue for weekly

medical screenings and art and music therapy. I am a place to cleanse body and

soul. I provide a place of comfort and clothing for God’s children. I will always

be a place to worship God in both word and deed.

I am Freemason Street Baptist Church- I am a lovely old lady and I am proud of

that. More than a structure, I am a congregation dedicated to God’s people.

I am alive.

I am full of life.

I have a heart and I am in the heart of the city!

Father, Thanks be to You for this building and this congregation. May we serve

You through service to our community, whatever form that may take and

whatever form we find You. Give us strength, hope, energy and the willingness

to continue to be your feet, hands and heart at Freemason and Bank Streets.



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