- Faith & Family
Pastor Mary E. Edwards founded her own church, the Greater First Church of Deliverance, Inc. in 1995 for a simple reason.
“I wanted to gather the people together and bring them to Christ,” she explained.
Within a few months, word of mouth about Edwards’ powerful prayer meetings and church services held in her own home attracted more and more worshippers. Soon the fledgling congregation needed to host their services at a hotel before finally establishing themselves at their current sanctuary on Seventh Avenue and 77th Court – all within a few months.
The membership increased to over 300 members and. currently, is approximately 100. Of those faithful, 25 percent are elderly while the remaining are children, youth and young adult.
Among the church’s more popular programs are its Vacation Bible Study School, Prayer Meetings and Youth Ministry. The church’s Youth Ministry provides field trips, mentoring, arts and crafts and music events. Edwards is not surprised that the church has such a large youth and younger adult membership.
“I was a youth leader at my previous church for several years,” she explained. “So, I’ve always worked with youth because I can take the time to reach them at their level. I listen to them and pray for them.”
The 71-year-old minister understands the importance of having guidance personally. Her role model in ministry is Apostle Cora Cato, whom she credits with helping her a great deal.
“She was such a great leader and I learned so much under her,” she explained. “She was just a great woman of God.”
Under Cato’s influence, Edwards learned that she had musical talents and she began playing the organ when she was in her early 30s. Her favorite songs to play include “The Lamb of God” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”
Edwards has lived through the usual trials that many other people experience. However, it has been her health that tends to test her faith the greatest. One of the most severe test occurred recently.
“I had shortness of breath and I went to the hospital,” she recalled.
She was later diagnosed with congestive heart failure. However, Edwards was not alarmed.
“The doctors told me me one thing, but I knew God had already healed me,” she said.
Edwards had experienced seemingly grave heart trouble before earlier in 1972. Inspite of the doctor’s initial prognosis, she was later given a “clean bill of health.”
Edwards patience again turned out to be well founded when she was told that she had been misdiagnosed – she was fine after all. Presently, Edwards says she is doing fine. And while some people at her age look forward to retirement, Edwards has no plans of slowing down.
“I want to work until the Lord says my time is done,” she explained. “I want to continue being who I am.”
Greater First Church of Deliverance, Inc. is located on 7640 NW 7th Avenue in Miami and holds Prayer and Praise Service on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Bible Study on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and worship service on Sundays at 11:30 a.m.
By Kaila Heard