- Faith & Family
It’s a joyful time for the members of Miami’s Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church (MBC) as they mark the first anniversary of their senior pastor, the Rev. Jeremy Upton. The celebration will continue throughout October — designated as the church’s pastoral appreciation month.
Upton, 36, has been leading Sweet Home since he was installed as their fourth senior pastor last year.
“It’s been an interesting year just seeing the church’s people responding to a vision about building an institution but helping the community,” Upton said.
When he began serving the South Florida church, Upton planned to strengthen the spiritual growth of the congregants, but he also believes in a church’s duty to helping the surrounding community. One year since his arrival, many of his goals have been accomplished. The church has hosted a community basketball tournament, given food to the less fortunate, visited sick and shut in members and even formed a sewing circle. And where their worship services once drew an average of 300 people, the numbers have now increased to between 800 and 1,000 people each Sunday.
“It’s been amazing seeing our church continue to grow,” Upton said. “As leaders we talk so much about vision but coming into a spot that already has such a rich history, it’s not about vision — it’s about letting people see my heart and who I am.”
He had a tough act to follow as the church’s previous pastor, the Rev. Walter T. Richardson led the church with distinction for 26 years.
“I had some big shoes to fill following [him], but I see my role as expanding what he started,” Upton said.
Life in sweet South Florida
Upton, who previously served at New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, moved to South Florida with his wife, Brianna, and their three children. Settling into a new area, different schools and various routines were not easy, but Upton believes it was for the best.
“The adjustment was difficult, but the crazy thing is it has drawn us closer together as a family,” he said.
Now Fridays are designated ‘Family Night’ and Upton always makes sure he has an evening scheduled for a date with his wife.
Events honoring the pastor will include: a pastor and people picnic on Friday, Oct. 7th at 6:30 p.m.; and Sunday services featuring guest speaker Rev. Denny D. Davis of St. John Baptist Church, Oct. 9th at 7:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. For information, call 305-251-5753.
By Kaila Heard