Our History

1914-1939

The Church of God of Tampa, Florida was founded in November 1914, by a group of Christian Believers. The group was led by Sis Sallye Johnson. A tent was erected on land at the corner of East 23rd Avenue and North 23rd Street, the group’s first place of worship. Later the group constructed a house on the site and called Rev. Thomas Davis as their first pastor. Bro. Thomas Daniels, one of the pioneer members donated property located at the corner of East 20th Avenue and North 22nd Street for the construction of the first sanctuary. Rev. Gabriel P. Sullivan was called as the second pastor. Under his leadership, the congregation faithfully labored and constructed a sanctuary on the property donated by Bro Daniels. The church was named the Twenty-Second Street Church of God. Between 1921- 1923, the Twenty-Second Street Church of God had eight pastors. In 1934 the congregation called the only female pastor. Rev. Roxie J. Pierce. Under her leadership the congregation held evangelistic services on street corners, witnessed in the name of Jesus and held prayer meetings in the community. Many families became a part of the growing congregation. Due to the new additional families there was a need for Christian Education. Pastor Pierce organized the first Sunday School and appointed Sis. Margaret McCardy as superintendent. Pastor Pierce resigned in 1940 to join her husband who was then the pastor of the Bealsville Church of God.

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1940-1963

The congregation called Rev. Clifton Morgan to serve as pastor. Under his leadership, the first church parsonage was purchased. Pastor Morgan established the Junior Missionaries and renamed the Pioneer Missionaries to Senior Missionaries. Pastor Morgan resigned to accept a position within the Church of God movement. Rev. Manassah Stephenson accepted the call to become pastor in 1944. Pastor Stephenson’s strong passion for an outreach ministry led him to involve ministers in the community, visiting and witnessing in the name of Christ. As a result of Pastor Stephenson’s outreach ministering, souls were saved and the congregation continued to grow. Pastor Stephenson resigned and recommended that his brother, Rev. Rupert Stephenson be called as his replacement. In 1955, the congregation agreed with Pastor Stephenson’s recommendation and called his brother Rev. Rupert Stephenson as pastor. Under Pastor Rupert Stephenson’s leadership several auxiliaries were established. Trustee Board, Usher Board with Bro. John Gordon as leader, Church Choir directed by Sis. Genevieve Smith with Sis. Nora McCall as pianist. Youth Programs directed by Sis. Cleora Hunter assisted by Sis. Elice Sledge. Children and Youth Choir directed by Sis. Josephine Watkins, Young People Bible Study with Bro. Willie Dorsey, Jr. leader. The vacation Bible School was organized. Pastor Rupert Stephenson resigned to take care of his ailing wife in 1963.

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1963-1965

A call was extended to Rev. Frank Carpenter to serve as pastor. The church was incorporated under his leadership. Each member was given a certificate, verifying his/her membership. The church name was changed from Twenty-Second Street Church of God to The Tampa Twenty-Second Street Church of God. Rev. Carpenter as pastor in 1965.

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1965-1969

Members called for Rev. Manasseh Stephenson to return as pastor. Major church renovations and a Fellowship Hall were added during his second pastoral term. After a few years as pastor, Rev. Stephenson resigned in 1969.

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1970-1979

In 1970, Rev. John W. Collins accepted the call to pastor the Tampa Twenty-Second Street Church of God. He arrived in Tampa with his wife Geneva in 1970. A second parsonage was purchased at 3412 22nd Avenue. The Collins’ were the first residents. Under Pastor Collins leadership, central air and heating system was installed in the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. The Junior Missionaries and the Senior Missionaries were combined and renamed Women of the Church of God (WCG) and led by Sis. Geneva Collins. The first Board of Education was established with Sis. Bertha Kemp as leader. Pastor Collins retired and he and his wife made Lakeland, Florida their retirement home in 1979.

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1980-1990

Upon Rev. Collins retirement, a pulpit committee was formed. They began their work of searching for a new pastor. Rev. Thomas Scott was unanimously voted as our pastor. In April 1980, Rev. Scott arrived in Tampa with his wife Marva and their one year old son Marcus. Their son Marlon, was born in 1981 and their daughter, Marla was born in 1985.Under the leadership of Pastor Scott, the Outreach Ministry was reorganized and led by Rev. Marjorie Sledge. The Golden Harvesters Ministry was organized with Sis. Alva Rivers as leader. A transportation Ministry was established and a church van was purchased. The first van drivers were Bro. Lamar Whaley and Sis. Cynthia Dorsey. The van transported members as well as non-members to church. The Messenger, the church first newsletter was published weekly and circulated across the United States by Sis. Bertha Kemp and Dianne Langston in 1980.Pastor Scott’s leadership was instrumental in the church’s growth in membership and it became clear that the existing church was inadequate to meet the needs of the congregation and its community. In 1982, Rev. Scott implemented God’s vision for a new sanctuary by appointing Deacon Robert Dorsey as Chairman of the Building Fund Committee. Deacon Dorsey and his committee launched a Building Fund Campaign. The congregation worked faithfully toward the Pastor’s vision and voted to purchase land on the corner of 21st Avenue and 34th Street for the construction of a new sanctuary. The sanctuary was completed in November 1984. With its new location, the congregation voted to name the new sanctuary Thirty-Forth Street Church of God. On November 11, 1984 the vision unfolded with a Grand March from the Tampa Twenty-Second Street Church of God to dedicate and celebrate the new church site at 3000 N. 34th Street and the birth of the Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God. The families who labored by faith to fulfill the vision were: The Bests, Burneys, Carswells, Chesters, Christies, Dorsey’s, Frazier’s, Fredericks, Greens, Gydens, Hamilton’s, Hankerson’s, Kemps, Kennedys, Kings, Langston’s, McCall, McWhite, Mathis, Mays, Mitchells, Parks, Popes, Rivers, Russell’s, Sledges, Smiths, Thompsons Tices, Whaley’s and Wynn’s. The first Children’s Church Ministry was organized under the Board of Christian Education led by Sis. Bertha Kemp. Under the leadership of Pastor Scott, King’s Kids Learning and Developmental Center was established in 1985. Sis. Illa Kennedy was instrumental in organizing the administration and the physical requirements for operating an Early…

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1990-2000

In 1993, the first Annual Family and Friends Day Picnic was held at Al Lopez Park. Deacon Henry Gyden established a men’s basketball team called the “Saints” which became a part of a city-wide church league. Church Scholarships were established by the Board of Christian Education under the leadership of Sis. Illa Kennedy. In 1996, Children’s Ministry was established with Sis. Evelyn Gyden as leader. Under her leadership several children’s ministries and outreach programs were implemented: Praise Dance Ministry led by Sis. Regina Underwood; Mime Ministry led by Bro. Alonzo Boatwright; Girl’s Club was led by Sis. Loretta Joseph; Kid’s Explosion led by Sis Diane Pope; Tutorial Program, Back to School Luncheon, Jump Start Summer Tutorial, Savings Account for Honor Roll Students, Reward Store, Children’s Day and many other programs for our children were implemented with the help of Sisters Margaret Brookins, Brenda Burney, Ora Chester, Sabrina Christie, Dayna Gray, Sonia Hadley, Loretta Joseph, Bertha Kemp, Andrea Moore and Diane Pope. A monthly newsletter “Children of Promise” was launched. Also in 1996, Rev. Thomas Scott was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity Degree. In February 1997, the Tampa Bay Community Family Development Corporation (TBCFDC) was established with Dr. Maxine Woodside as Director. TBCFDC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with the sole purpose of fostering and promoting community-wide interest and concern for the problems of disadvantaged and under-privileged individuals and families to end sickness, poverty and crime, and also to lessen environmental degradation so that education and economic opportunities may be expanded. Operation 34th Street was established to provide children with back to school supplies, free haircuts, and health check-ups. The event has continued to grow for the past eleven years serving more than 700 families annually. Today, this event is known as “Community Survival Day”. The TBCFDC community based educational enrichment program: Preparing all Students to Succeed (PASS) and Tutorial brought a number of young people and families to Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God for after school help in computer and literacy tutorials. We feel blessed by God who has provided us with a marvelous leader. Pastor Thomas Scott and the resources to carry out our Christian Outreach responsibilities. It became clear that the tremendous growth in our congregation, and the increase of our outreach missions, there was a need to hire an Executive Pastor. In 1998, the first full-time Executive Pastor Rev. Mitchell Bettis was hired. Under his…

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2000-2010

Under the direction of Principal Marva Scott, King’s Kids Learning and Developmental Academy added third through fifth grades, thus increasing enrollment. The land located on the south side of the sanctuary was purchased and four portable classrooms were erected. Additional properties around the church were purchased for future growth. In 2002, the following Elders were appointed by Rev. Scott. Elder of Congregational Care Sis. Marva Scott, Elder of Mission Outreach Loretta Joseph, Elder of Help Ministries, Deacon Hilrie Kemp, Elder of Spiritual Enrichment Deacon David Jones, and Elder of Fellowship Ministries, Deacon Elliott Gray. Sisters Jackie Berrien, Dayna Gray, and Eva Russell were called to the ministry. Rev. Alton Kemp joined our congregation in 2004. Under the leadership of Elder Marva Scott, the Women Praise Dancers were organized and led by Sis. Regina Underwood and Sis. Nicole Floyd. The “Mime” ministry was reorganized and led by Sis. Regina Underwood, assisted by Bro. Ralph Underwood and Sis. Pauline Williams. Due to the illness of the Executive Pastor, Mitchell Bettis and the continuous growth of the congregation thee was a need to create new ministries and the following ministers were appointed; Rev. Jeffrey Johnson- Minister of Youth and Children Rev. Alton Kemp-Minister of Pastoral Care and Youth Rev. Thomas Mason- Minister of Evangelism and Young Adults Rev. Dr. Maxine Woodside- Minister of Administration and Education. In 2004 Rev. Jeffrey Johnson was hired as Youth Pastor and Bro. Johnny Burt was ordained as a Deacon. Elder Marva Scott resigned as Principal of King’s Kids Learning & Developmental Academy to serve as full-time Minister of Congregational Care. The church purchased property at 3101 N. 34th Street for the construction of the Administration Building. The building was completed in 2005 and named the Frank Kennedy Administration Building. Today, the Tampa Bay Community Family Development Corporation (Known as “Bethesda Ministries”) and Minister of Congregational Care are housed in the Frank Kennedy Building. Youth Church was organized by Pastor Jeffrey Johnson. The Youth Ushers were reorganized by Sis. Loretta Cottman. In 2006, the first “Family Fest” was held, with Pastor Jeffrey Johnson and Sis. Marla Scott-Johnson spear-heading and coordinating the conference. Minister Alan Horne joined our congregation and served as Pastor Scott’s Armor-Bearer and Pulpit Assistant. Pastor Thomas Scott reassigned and appointed the following pastors: Rev. Dr. Maxine Woodside as Pastor of Administration and Education Rev. Jeffrey Johnson as Pastor of Assimilation and Conservation. In 2008, the…

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2011-2016

In 2012 Pastor Scott’s vision for a charter school became a reality. Today King’s Kids Health Science Academy has over 104 students and is one of the premier schools in Tampa. We celebrated our 100th Year Church Anniversary (Centennial Year) on Sunday, November 16, 2014. In 2015 the 34th Street Church of God Telephone Prayer Line was established. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Scott was consecrated to the office of Bishop on November 13, 2015. Bishop Thomas Scott has been the Senior Pastor of Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God for thirty-five years. Under his leadership, faith and grace he has brought Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God from a congregation of a couple of hundred dedicated souls to a membership today that exceeds eight hundred. Sacrifice and God’s favor has brought 34th Street Church from a small wooden sanctuary to a million dollar complex. Today we gratefully remember all of those who have shared in the ministries of Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God. Without the foundation of faith, we could not continue to minister and enjoy the blessings of God. Everyone that passes through our doors will know that God is in this place to renew guide, strengthen, and bless. We hope that you have enjoyed reading these historical highlights of the life of the Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God. May it also serve as a reminder to you that God uses ordinary people in this special place called “Thirty-Fourth Street Church of God”.

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