"..That ye may tell it to the generations following." Psalm 48:13c
The First Church of God of Far Rockaway had its beginning in 1909 when a few consecrated saints began holding home-based prayer meetings. The earliest pioneers included Sisters Fannie McCord Combs, Matilda Rogers, L. Wardlaw, Rhina Williams, and S. Cooper. The congregation that grew from this group became the first black church in the Far Rockaway community and the first Church of God congregation in New York City.
Some of the ministers who visited these home-based meetings were Bro. and Sis. Blewett, Bro. Sullivan, Bro. R. J. Smith and Bro. Benjamin. The first pastor was Rev. Enoch Evans who had been ordained at the Anderson, Indiana Camp Meeting, bridging the gap between the local and international Church of God. The second pastor was Rev. Evans' son-in-law, Rev. William Paschal. Other pastors who served the church during its formative years were Rev. C. Holman, Rev. Venter Watkins, and Rev. W. H. Delaine.
In 1947, Rev. Dr. James E. Cray was chosen Pastor. During the 30 years he served, Pastor Cray's prolific ministry helped the church to grow spiritually, numerically, and financially; the present edifice was built, and several pieces of property acquired. Pastor Cray became internationally known in the Church of God Reformation Movement. When he retired in 1977 the church body designated him as Pastor Emeritus.
In 1977 First Church, in a unanimous vote, the church installed Rev. Dr. Arthur W. Davenport as pastor. Pastor Davenport has provided outstanding leadership at the local, state, national, and international levels of the Church of God. He has led the church to broaden its ministries with emphasis on the social concerns of the community. A second morning Worship Service at 8:00 A.M. was initiated in 1988. We have purchased the remainder of property surrounding the existing church building to the corner, clearing the way that we may fulfill our vision to expand our edifice and to build a multi-purpose complex that will include an elementary school and a community center.
First Church of God is open seven days a week serving our community with a variety of programs including: Christian Training and Recreation (Day Care), Food Pantry Ministry, Boys/Girls Rites Of Passage, Daily Prayer Ministry, Project Triumph (Substance Abuse Ministry), Evangelism Team, Vacation Bible School/Day Camp, Tape Outreach Ministry, Church School, Men's Fellowship, Youth Fellowship (TLC), Women of the Church of God, Cell Care-Fellowship Groups, Fellowship "21", Young Adult Legacy, Men of Redemption, and Golden Vessels Ministry (Senior Adults) and several other ministries.
Several ministers have been developed at First Church, many of whom have themselves become pastors: Rev. Raymond Stacey, Rev. Donald Williams, Rev. Wallace Hazzard, Rev. James Hatterson, Rev. Mattie Morris, Rev. James Morris, Bishop Timothy J. Clarke, Rev. Pierre Cooper, the late Rev. Dr. John A. Bethea, the late Rev. Mary Davidson, Rev. Austin Davidson, Rev. Ronald Wells, Rev. Keevie Hooks, Min. Martha Harvey, Rev. Dr.Whitfield Blenman, Rev. Andrew Teagle, Min. Cortez Stallings, Jr., Rev. Thomas Flood, Min. Diane Ward, Min. Seprena Tompkins, Min. Kenneth Burden, Rev. James Arkord, Rev. Cynthia Arkord, Min. Gail Hamilton, Min. Sonya A. Milton, Min. Paul Allen, Rev. Sunday Legemah, and Rev. Dr. Mark A. Gardner.
Formerly serving the church as associate ministers were Rev. C. Jeannette Chenoweth, Min. Autheil Freckleton, Min. Merlene Clarke, Min. Ingrid Holder, Min. St. Clair Roberts, Min.Osbourne Thompson, the late Min.Courtney Bunbury Jr., Minister Jannie Goode, and Min.Glenda Nesmith.
In 107 years, First Church of God has been committed to the Kingdom of God and His mission here on earth. We know that the best is yet to come!