- Faith & Family
“We’re celebrating a great person here,” a guest performer of Northside Church of God said at last Sunday’s morning worship service. “Somebody who’s been praying and fasting for you the last five years.”
Last week, Rev. Mark Gardner, pastor of Northside Church of God, 41, was honored for his five years as pastor of the church. It was a four-day celebration, which took place on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
“It seems surreal,” Gardner said. “I’m wondering where did the time go.”
Northside is the first church that Gardner has pastored , and the experience is much different than he expected it to be.
He served as associate pastor of The First Church of God in New York for over twelve years, but now that he is a senior pastor he has greater and newer responsibilities.
He said it is different leading a congregation, managing multiple personalities and adapting to a new culture.
“The experience has been empowering, transformative and enlightening,” he said.
“It has been full of movements and transitions.”
After hearing God’s call, Gardner moved to Miami in 2007 with his wife, Sheree Mashack, and his two children, Tehela and Levi.
“Knowing that God sent me has given me the strength, perseverance and endurance,” he said. “It has helped me weather the storms when they come and go.”
He also connected with other pastors for guidance. Over the five year period that he has been pastor, the church has become more community-based, hosting many community events, such as their spaghetti dinners and back-to-school bash, where they distributed book bags to children.
Over the years, the church building has been renovated and the congregation has grown from about 25 to about 65 members.
The church is a an intergenerational and intercultural church, according to Gardner.
He said one of his top priorities is working in partnership with the city to create a program for seniors that will help them with housing and community relationship building.
Gardner said what he enjoyed most about the the pastoral anniversary was that church members and other South Florida churches worked together successfully and executed everything.
“Only God could have painted this pastoral anniversary masterpiece,” he said. “The people were the paintbrushes in God’s hands and he used them to create it.”
By Malika A. Wright