How did Fort Caroline Baptist Church Get Started?
It is hard to believe, but the growing, vibrant congregation we know today as Fort Caroline Baptist Church, started with only eight families! In 1978 these eight families followed the God-given vision of the Arlington Baptist Church in Jacksonville to begin a new congregation in the Holly Oaks area. They set aside three Sunday afternoons for a house-to-house survey of the possible prospects. A number of prospects were located among the few homes that were springing up in this wooded area of the city. After much prayer it was decided that the new work should go forward. Next, a place to worship God and to study His Word was needed. The decision was made to rent the facilities of the Holly Oaks Community Center on McCormick Rd. The Community Center would serve as the temporary meeting place for the "Fort Caroline Baptist Chapel." The first worship service was held on Mother's Day, May 14, 1978.
The members of the new chapel firmly believed that they needed more room to grow and reach the lost. They began to pray about the next steps of faith God would have them to take. In June 1979 the fledgling congregation stepped out in faith and purchased 7.5 acres of land at 11428 McCormick Road! The land was purchased with a grant from the Florida Baptist Convention and the Jacksonville Baptist Association, a loan from the Florida Baptist Convention, and the first proceeds from the $350,000.00 bond issue approved by the Arlington Baptist Church.
A ground breaking ceremony for the Chapel's first Worship Center was held on January 25, 1981. The members of the chapel and Arlington Baptist Church poured a lot of "sweat equity" and money into this new worship facility that could seat 300 people. The building was designed to serve as a temporary Worship Center. The Master Plan called for the worship space to eventually be converted into a fellowship hall and/or educational space when a permanent Worship Center was built. The first services were held in the new Worship Center on December 20, 1981. The founding members believed that if they expanded their hearts to reach the lost, God would bless their efforts. They were right! By May of 1982 the Chapel's membership had grown to more than fifty families! The Fort Caroline Baptist Church was constituted on May 2, 1982.
Pastor Ricky Powell began his ministry with our church in 1994 when he was called on staff to serve as the Associate Pastor. He became the Senior Pastor in 1996. Ricky was born on November 25, 1967 in Mobile, Alabama. Ricky began preaching when he was seventeen years old. He served two churches in Georgia as pastor before coming to Jacksonville. He married Donna Renee Jacobs of Jacksonville, FL on February 2, 1991. They have three children, Joshua, Casey, and Caleb. Ricky earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion (BAR) from Luther Rice University in Atlanta, GA. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Today, FCBC is comprised of approximately 1,600 members! Fort Caroline is in the top 58 missions-giving churches in the Florida Baptist Convention. We are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Florida Baptist Convention, and the Jacksonville Baptist Association.
Fort Caroline Baptist Church is a dynamic and creative multi-generational church in the East Arlington section of Jacksonville, Florida. The area surrounding Fort Caroline is comprised of both single and family households with an average age of 33 yrs. These households have an average of two children and their primary concerns in life are getting out of debt and increasing their skills as parents. Within five miles of the church there are approximately 130,000 people with projections that by 2010 that number will increase to 147,000. Fort Caroline is taking the opportunity to be a living witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in a relevant way in our community.
We completed Phase 1 of our Master Plan in the summer of 2009 by constructing a state-of-the-art Preschool facility, Welcome Center, and expanded parking. (See photo above.)
Phases 2 and 3 will include a new Worship Center, education space, and increased parking.