Church disbands and gives black congregation its building

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Two Southern Baptist churches in Gainesville, one Anglo and one African American, struggled to find new identities in their changing neighborhoods. Although only one church survived, by all accounts, their story is a happy one.

For more than ten years Lighthouse Baptist Church, an Anglo church in northwest Gainesville, struggled to find a way to minister in its changing neighborhood. It was once a thriving congregation of 100 that led mission trips to Brazil and India before a church split decimated its membership. Keeping the church going became a struggle for the two dozen remaining members.

Pastor Mike Killean told Florida Baptist Witness church members through the years prayer-walked and visited door-to-door in the area in an effort to minister to its surrounding area. He said for two years the church tried to call an African American staff member who might relate more effectively to its neighbors. In March, Killean resigned to make room for a new pastor. To his surprise, three weeks later, the church voted to disband.

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