First Baptist Fort Lauderdale, Church by the Glades baptize 400+ Easter weekend

‘God at work in South Florida’

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FORT LAUDERDALE— “God is at work in South Florida,” said Al Fernandez, Southeast regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention.

Rising with joy in the bright light of Easter Sunday: one of 420 souls baptized at the beach by Church by the Glades.

Church By the Glades and First Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale, in a unique partnership, joined forces on extreme ends of Broward County to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” resulting in 430 individuals being baptized Easter weekend on Fort Lauderdale Beach, he said.

On Easter Sunday, First Baptist Fort Lauderdale further celebrated God being “at work in South Florida” as it opened its sanctuary doors for the first time in more than a year, welcoming 5,000 people for worship. The sanctuary had been undergoing extensive renovations because of devastating Broward County floods in April 2023, and worship services had been held in the church’s event center.

A moment of commitment and celebration in the campus pool— 10 more people were baptized after worship services on Easter Sunday at Church by the Glades.

The week leading up to Easter, David Hughes, pastor of both churches, preached on Christ’s identity, ultimate sacrifice and spiritual bravery. On Easter Sunday, Pastor Charlie Hughes, David Hughes’s son, emphasized faith, hope and unconditional love through Christ’s resurrection and ultimate sacrifice.

“God’s love was radical, so radical that it led Him to dying in our place. I think a reasonable response to that radical love is for us to start loving Jesus back,” Charlie said. Many made professions of faith.

‘Best chance …  to reach Broward County’

All ages were represented in the mass baptism event held by Church by the Glades a the beach on Easter Sunday.

The senior Hughes, who has been lead pastor at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs for almost 25 years, also became lead pastor at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale in June 2023 in a unique partnership that seeks to revitalize one of the oldest churches in Broward County.

At the time, Hughes explained why revitalizing First Baptist Fort Lauderdale, which had been in decline, was vital.

“This is my city. I’ve grown up here since I was a little boy,” he said. “I love it. I think I understand it. I think what we’re doing right now is different; it’s unorthodox; but I think it’s our best chance to not just revitalize a once great church but to reach Broward County, Florida, to capture downtown. So, it’s a little crazy but man, the calling of God is a little crazy. If all the math works out and it makes sense, it’s not God.”

On Easter Sunday, First Baptist Fort Lauderdale further celebrated God being “at work in South Florida” as it opened its sanctuary doors for the first time in more than a year, welcoming 5,000 people for worship.

Hughes and other Church by the Glades members currently volunteer their time to serve at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale and are using funds from Church by the Glades to help pay for needed repairs and renovations at the damaged 115-year-old First Baptist sanctuary.

A couple emerges together from the baptismal waters of Fort Lauderdale Beach during the mass baptisms held by Church by the Glades on Easter Sunday.

When Hughes was called to lead Church by the Glades in 1988, the church was averaging 470 on Sundays. Now the church averages several thousand across its five services at the Coral Springs location and two prison facilities. The multi-site church reported 1,127 baptisms in 2023.

When it comes to revitalization of First Baptist Fort Lauderdale, Hughes told CBS News Miami, “People from within the church have donated — and people outside the church recognized this as such an important project — have stepped in. So, it’s been something that I have never seen in my career that speaks to the importance of this great church. It’s going to be amazing.”

All photos courtesy of Church by the Glades.

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