Celebration at Orange Hill Missionary Baptist

38th Homecoming Celebration ~ 148th Church Anniversary ~ Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church

Matthew 5:19 says “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee”.

On Sunday, August 19, at 11 a.m. the Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 816 Sunday Road, under the pastorate of Rev. Malcolm O. Nelson, will celebrate their 38th Annual Homecoming. This year’s theme is “Reconnecting With Our Christian Roots” (Colossians 2:6-7); reconnecting with the Roots of Faith (Hebrews 11:13), Hope (I Peter 1:3), Love (John 15:17), Belief (I John 5:1), Worship (John 4:23), Obedience (Acts 5:29), etc. Maya Angelou once wrote:

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”

I’m whispering “I was lost,

Now I’m found and forgiven.”

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I don’t speak of this with pride.

I’m confessing that I stumble

and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not holier than thou,

I’m just a simple sinner

Who received God’s good grace, somehow!

The speaker will be the Rev. Donald Bell, pastor of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church of Pensacola. Besides being the nephew of Thelma Bell Farmer, wife of Rev. Luther V. Farmer, he is the great grandson of Rev. Austin D. Bell, Sr. and Nina Wilson Bell. His great- great grandfather John Bell, a sharecropper, was promised land in Florida if he moved his family to Florida from Oakfield, Georgia and do farming for his overseer. The Bell family therefore moved to Econfina, a little community on the Bay county line. Eventually the family was given a few acres of their own so they moved to the southeast portion of Washington County, known as the community of Orange Hill.

OHMBCSince the time of Reconstruction, 1865 to 1877 following the American Civil War, the Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church has been serving the Orange Hill community. The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, was passed on December 6th, 1865. The church was established five years after that amendment in 1870; the first year of the U.S. Census to list all persons including former slaves as persons. While the famous Fisk Jubilee Singers were forming on the Fisk University campus in Nashville, Tennessee OHMBC was worshiping and working the works of God in Florida. The Gospel song writer, Fanny J. Crosby, had just written her famous hymns “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” (1868) “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” (1869), and “Rescue The Perishing” (1870) that we still sing our church services today. Recently a church steeple was placed upon the church. The church steeple directs our attention upwards and the end result, hopefully, will be that we are drawn to God and as Jesus said “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

The cross atop is drawing people to Christ; that we might have a heavenly frame of mind upon coming into worship. Out of Orange Hill sprung the Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church and from them the Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church.

The first Pastor of Orange Hill was Rev. James Cady from Jackson County. The following pastors have been: Rev. Webb, Rev. Benjamin, Rev. Green, Rev. Gipson, Rev. Linsay, Rev. B. A. Allen, Rev. Blount, Rev. Woods, Rev. Joseph Young, Rev. Jessie Ward, Rev. Jefferson, Rev. Sam Cherry, Rev. Adolphus McLaughlin, Rev. James Johns (longest serving pastor) and the current pastor Rev. Malcolm O. Nelson.

At one point in its rich history the Church gave the Washington County School System one of their 20 acres of land to build a public school for black children in the community. After the schools were consolidated in Washington County, the school board gave the acre of land back. During Black History Month this historic church celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the closing of T.J. (Thomas Joseph) Roulhac High School (1938-1968); “End of An Era”. Fifty years ago the doors of the beloved T.J. Roulhac High School were closed. It marked the end of an era of a unique education. With “hand me down books” and second rate materials the students of old TJ Roulhac High received a first rate education. OHMBC certainly is a church on the move, with a message and a mission: “A charge to keep, a God to glorify ….. to serve the present age, our calling to fulfill ….. to do our Master’s will.” All are invited to join in the celebration on Sunday, August 19 at 11 am. There will be a fellowship dinner following morning worship.