MIAMI–For members of Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, the Christmas song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” is more than sentimental lyrics; for them, it is reality.
On Christmas Eve, for the first time in the church’s 48-year history, the congregation will be worshipping in its newly purchased property and facility in West Little River.
Under the leadership of Pastor Ricardo Moore, the church will be celebrating the purchase of its first home following a challenging journey that began in 2019.
The diverse congregation, consisting of government workers, young people, veterans, law enforcement officers and retired educators, rallied together in faith and determination to overcome various obstacles, including complex real estate market conditions and city permit issues.
Reflecting on this journey, Pastor Moore shared, “We were somewhat discouraged because the market in South Florida is misaligned to say it best. We started back in 2019 looking for a property, and we purchased a piece of property. We ran into some challenges getting permits from the city to operate as a church and were never able to meet in that building. It eventually had to be sold.”
The church then leased space in Opa-Locka, only to face the sale of the building in September 2023, which led the congregation to hold services temporarily at a school. The new location in West Little River resonates with the church’s history, as it closely mirrors the cultural and demographic makeup of its original community in Opa-Locka.
The church’s resilience and faith never wavered. Church leaders found the current location online, and after viewing it, quickly made an offer. Pastor Moore added, “This is my seventh year serving the church as pastor. We are set to close around the time I started, Dec. 20.”
Throughout this journey, Pastor Moore’s transparent leadership and commitment to prayer played a crucial role. “I was transparent and communicated clearly. I kept the truth in front of them, didn’t make false promises,” he explains. The congregation’s appreciation of this approach was evident, as they remained supportive and engaged.
The Florida Baptist Convention, particularly Al Fernandez, Southeast regional catalyst, provided crucial support. “Al reminded me that the Florida Baptist Convention will be there if anything were to happen to the church,” Pastor Moore recalls. This encouragement, coupled with a financial gift and a financially strategic move to pay cash for the new property, significantly aided their mission.
“Like the children of Israel, Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist Church was wandering the city of Opa-Locka without a permanent home for 48 years,” said Fernandez. “Through the generosity of Florida Baptist churches giving through the Cooperative Program, the convention was able to assist in helping this faithful church purchase its very first property. This is a testament to God’s faithfulness demonstrated through His people.”
Moore is grateful for the leadership of Fernandez.
This is a testament to God’s faithfulness demonstrated through His people.
“Al is just phenomenal. He is not just a regional catalyst; he is a dear friend to me and my wife. He is a prayer partner for me and a sounding board,” Pastor Moore shared. After a conversation with Fernandez, the church shifted from financing the new building to a cash purchase, utilizing profits from their first property sale, alleviating the burden of hefty insurance.
This new property and facility represent more than just a physical space; rather, they are a symbol of stability and a beacon of hope. The congregation’s generosity was pivotal, with a significant gift from a member catalyzing the initial property purchase.
Looking ahead, Pastor Moore envisions an active role in the community, including the establishment of a music academy for children, spearheaded by the church’s minister of music, who is also a music professor at Miami Dade College. “Through our evangelistic efforts, I hope we are led to see the need in the community and come up with ways to meet that need while pointing them to Jesus,” Pastor Moore stated.
This Christmas Eve, as Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist Church holds its inaugural service in its new home, church members not only will celebrate God’s faithfulness but also will focus on God’s leadership moving forward.